Via Xinhua: Feature: Life of Chinese Ebola laboratory members in Sierra Leone. Excerpt:
China sent a 59-member contingent of medical personnel to Sierra Leone in response to calls of the country for international aid to fight the deadly Ebola epidemic.
The mobile laboratory from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has so far tested 696 samples, with 375 positive of the virus since their arrival last month.
The core part of the team is a group of eight people, with an average age of 35. Yang Fan and Su Haoxiang, one of the most shining duos in the team, were widely known as they have been working together as partners for four years in dealing with major epidemic outbreaks back at home.
However, it's the first time they are confronted with Ebola, a virus requiring biosafety level 4-equivalent containment at laboratories where diagnostic testing is carried out.
Testing in the Chinese mobile lab was based on Protection-3 platform developed by China. Medical personnel have to first inactivate the virus before the so-called PCR process to determine the nature of the sample.
Yang, the most senior in the team, is charged with the toxin inactivation process. When Su, the youngest at the testing team, takes the sample for PCR, it is already detoxicated.
It is therefore quite safe for Su to join Yang in the final process. Yang and Su were somewhat like the traditional master and disciple in their years of working together.
It is common for them to have a kind of discussion following every testing process, where Su learns and matures.
"Work in Sierra Leone will definitely be one of the most important experiences in my life," said Su.
Sierra Leone's Health Minister Abu Bakarr Fofanah has described the Chinese aid as "phenomenal."
He noted that China had airlifted 1.36 million dollars' worth of anti-Ebola drugs followed by a contingent of medical personnel.
In addition, the Chinese Embassy also converted the Sierra Leone-Chinese Friendship Hospital, about 30 km east of Freetown, to a hospital capable of handling cases of highly infectious diseases like Ebola, said the minister.
He said with Chinese aid, the country can now boast of a 100-bed hospital facility in the capital, Freetown, that can be readily "transformed to a management and treatment center."