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My little sister volunteered in one of the labs in Sierra Leone December / January 2014 and she was very excited in August 2015 when no new cases were being reported there. However there were a number of small flare ups later in the year so Sierra Leone was not declared free of Ebola until 17 March 2016.
The thing that upset my sister most was not the people who died of Ebola, it was the people who died because of it.
The two that hit her most and nearly broke her were a medic (one of many from Cuba) who died of cerebral malaria who had to wait to be tested to be free of Ebola before being medi-evaced to the hospital ship, and the daughter-in-law of her mini bus driver who died waiting to be proved Ebola free before being given an emergency c-section. In both cases the tests were given the utmost priority (and proved negative for Ebola), but we’re not fast enough to allow other medical interventions to take place in time (without risking the hospital ship and local hospital respectively). Horrible situations.
I’m proud of what my sister and her colleagues from various labs around the UK and medics from our hospitals volunteered to do (as well as many others from around the world).
Me at the Imperial Science Festival trying on some of the PPE they had to work in at the labs in Sierra Leone. Hood, goggles, tyvek suit, wellies, two layers of rubber glove and a plastic apron. I was sweating like anything after just a few minutes in an air conditioned building in London. The routine for getting this gear off (various levels decontamination) just so you could drink, pee or have lunch would have driven me crazy, no matter working in it for hours in the African heat.
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