10 US charity staff to leave Sierra Leone amid Ebola scare

By CLARENCE ROY-MACAULAY AND ROBBIE COREY-BOULET, Associated Press

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — Ten clinicians with a Boston-based nonprofit organization responding to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone are to be transported to the United States after one of their colleagues was infected with the deadly disease.

Partners in Health said in a statement Saturday that the medical workers would be evacuated on non-commercial aircraft and isolated in Ebola treatment facilities.

On March 11, a Partners in Health clinician in Sierra Leone tested positive for Ebola, and the 10 fellow workers “came to the aid of their ailing colleague,” the group’s statement said. They have not shown signs of Ebola, and Partners in Health said the evacuations were ordered “out of an abundance of caution.”

“They will remain in isolation near designated U.S. Ebola treatment facilities to ensure access to rapid testing and treatment in the unlikely instance that any become symptomatic,” the group’s statement said.

The clinician who became infected has already been evacuated and is receiving treatment at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Partners in Health did not specify a timeline for the new evacuations, and a representative of the U.S. Embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital, was not authorized to comment Sunday morning.

Earlier on Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said several Americans who may have been exposed to Ebola in Sierra Leone would be monitored. The CDC did not state how many Americans are coming back, but University of Nebraska Medical Center officials said they will be monitoring four Americans.

The World Health Organization estimated last week that the ongoing Ebola outbreak has killed more than 10,000 people, mostly in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The outbreak is the largest ever for the disease. Deaths have slowed dramatically in recent months but the virus appears stubbornly entrenched in parts of Guinea and Sierra Leone.

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Corey-Boulet reported from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

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