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Red Cross sends health worker to Sierra Leone to fight Ebola outbreak

6 June 2014

A British Red Cross health worker has been deployed to Sierra Leone to help tackle the growing Ebola outbreak in the region.

The delegate joins a four-person emergency response team that is offering expert support to the Sierra Leone Red Cross and authorities in the capital Freetown.

The West Africa nation has seen an increase in the number of infections in the last week, while neighbouring Guinea has also seen new cases.  

Highly infectious virus

Ben Webster, British Red Cross disaster response manager, said: “Reports of new infections in Freetown and Guinea have prompted us to send additional support to the region to complement existing Red Cross emergency operations in Sierra Leone and five other West Africa countries responding to the outbreak.

“Ebola is a deadly and highly infectious virus, but its spread can be controlled. The British Red Cross health delegate will be an essential part of the response team and will lend their expertise to the efforts.”

In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Airtel, the Red Cross in Sierra Leone is using an innovative SMS mobile text system called the Trilogy Emergency Relief Application (TERA).

TERA, which can reach 36,000 people in a specific location within an hour, is being used to send messages about Ebola prevention and how to respond to the outbreak.  

Regional outbreak

Sierra Leone is one of six countries in the throes of a virulent Ebola outbreak, which began in neighbouring Guinea in March and has since spread to Senegal, Liberia, Ghana and Mali.

According to the World Health Organization there have been 50 clinical cases of Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Sierra Leone, including six deaths.

Guinea's Ministry of Health has reported more than 290 cases since the outbreak began, including 193 deaths.

The Ebola virus causes a severe acute viral illness often characterised by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, headache, vomiting, profuse bleeding and muscle pain. There is no cure or vaccine for the disease.

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