Ebola cases are continuing to rise “frighteningly quickly” in parts of Sierra Leone, an international campaign group has said.
In a situation assessment released on Sunday, the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) warned that the virus is spreading nine times faster in rural parts of Sierra Leone than just two months ago.
“Whilst new cases appear to have slowed in Liberia, Ebola is continuing to spread frighteningly quickly in parts of Sierra Leone,” said the AGI report. Based on three-day averages of cases recorded by the health ministry, the report shows that Sierra Leone is now averaging 12 new cases of Ebola each day, up from 1.3 daily cases in early September.
Acknowledging the government’s measures to control the spread, AGI stressed that the situation was still “a full-blown crisis”.
“The Government of Sierra Leone is making real strides in tackling transmission by speeding up access to treatment and safe and dignified burial,” AGI chief executive Nick Thompson said. “But we can’t rest until Ebola has nowhere to hide. And we can see from growth in new cases in some rural parts of Sierra Leone that we still have no time to lose if we’re going to get on top of this.”
Though Sierra Leone’s rural areas have been worst hit, the group says the spread of Ebola is also increasing in the capital Freetown – which is recording six times more cases per day compared to two months ago. The virus has only started to slow in one region of Sierra Leone, Bombali, in the country’s north.
The stark assessment from AGI comes just days after the World Health Organization (WHO) released an updated situation report describing Ebola transmission in Sierra Leone as “intense” and “widespread”. Last month, health officials announced that the outbreak had reached Koinadugu, the last unaffected district in the country up to that point.
With more than 5,300 cases and 1,500 deaths reported nationwide as of Oct. 29, Sierra Leone is one of three West African nations at the epicenter of the world’s worst outbreak of Ebola.
According to the latest numbers from the WHO, nearly 14,000 cases of Ebola and almost 5,000 deaths have been confirmed across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Small clusters of cases have also reached Mali, Senegal and Nigeria, and isolated cases have been confirmed as far away as the United States and Spain.
To help respond to the growing crisis in Sierra Leone, a British naval ship, carrying hundreds of troops, medical supplies, helicopters and trucks, docked in the capital on Thursday. The ship will serve as a hangar and take-off and landing zone for the helicopters, which will ferry supplies and people to hard-to-reach areas of the country.
“With all these facilities, they will go a long way in the ongoing fight against the Ebola disease,” Alfred Palo Conteh, the new head of the country’s National Ebola Response Center, said Thursday, as he greeted the arriving ship.