Via Sierra Leone News Hunters: Miatta Kargbo Spills ‘Ebola Beans’! Excerpt:
Ms. Kargbo said that since May 20, the Ministry’s surveillance team started having information about persistent cases of diarrhea and vomiting around the Kissy Tenga area. “We began accepting the cases. Our small community health centre began admitting them. The symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting were prevalent in these areas during this time of the year due to the river situations. We took blood and stool samples and took them to the Kenema Lassa Fever Lab where the Ministry had set up its Ebola Lab. I had just returned from Geneva.
“On Sunday, I called a meeting of ministry, CDC and lab officials. By then, the Kenema team was working on the samples. It takes a while to run the tests. It took four hours and came out inconclusive. The next results came out at 11:30 pm.
"That night I was urging and pressurizing the hospital staff to speed up. I needed these samples as soon as possible. They told me that I have to be patient because they had to be careful that the tests were run right. I called President Koroma and briefed him about everything. By 11:30 pm, the labs came out and we saw we had a problem. One sample tested positive. I called President Koroma again and he said we had to announce it.”
The minister said she then called a meeting of her team and told them they were moving from investigations to response. "After we went on the radio and announced the one case at Koindu, we had to bring her to the isolation centre. The isolation centre is the Kenema Hospital, which is one of the best Lassa Fever labs in West Africa. It was the one capable of testing for Ebola. It was here we tested the samples even for Guinea. That is why we transfer patients to this regional centre.
"We sent a specially-equipped ambulance to pick up the woman at Koindu. This was done by experts and some are whites. But we encountered a problem. On Monday, the family said they will not release her. By then, there were 5 of them and 3 more were added to them, making 8. Because of the treatment we had given them, they said they were feeling better and wanted to go home, but we said we were not going to release them because one of them had tested positive for Ebola.
"The family stood their ground. The doctor even called and spoke to the husband and he started to agree. By the time I got home from work at 8 pm, I heard that families had become very stubborn and vowed that we were not going to take their relatives anywhere. They threatened that they will soon start burning our vehicles and cutting off our heads."
The minister said she called Deputy Inspector of Police Moigbeh for help and he called the LUC of Kailahun “to help us protect the lives of our medical team and patients. But before any help could come, families had stormed the centre, forcibly taking the patients away and hiding them in the bush. Dr. Squire called and told me about this. We were then given Police escort to protect our medical team and pull them out. Dr. Squire escorted them.
"I called all the MPs in the Kailahun area for help because the Town Chief was unable to convince the people to bring the patients back. I went to the radio and pleaded for these people to be brought back. By now, four had tested positive for Ebola,” Minister Kargbo said.