Last year on May 24, a pregnant woman and a friend stagger in to a hospital in Kenema, They were diagnosed as Sierra Leone’s first Ebola cases.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening said “A year ago today it was confirmed that the deadly Ebola virus had reached Sierra Leone. In the months that followed this terrible disease swept across the country claiming thousands of lives, devastating communities and temporarily crippling the economy.”
Ebola has killed over 11,000 people since the outbreak began in southern Guinea in December 2013, spreading first to Liberia, which was recently declared Ebola free, before Sierra Leone.
The brutality and cold efficiency of the Ebola virus — described in medical literature as a “molecular shark” — caught the city’s shabby, chaotic hospital off-guard.
More than 20 healthcare workers died, including five co-authors of a study published by the journal Science which confirmed the healer’s funeral as a seminal event at the outbreak’s explosive start.
By late summer the virus had made its way into the capital city, Freetown, where it took advantage of overcrowding and fluid population movements to grow in explosive numbers.
At the peak of the outbreak in September and October last year, Sierra Leone and its neighbors were reporting hundreds of new cases a week, their health services strained and failing and their economies destroyed.
Liberia, which saw the most deaths, gave the world hope when it was able to declare that it had eradicated Ebola earlier this month.
But Sierra Leone and Guinea have seen a recent jump in new cases, according to the World Health Organization, dashing hopes that the deadly outbreak was petering out.
Sierra Leone said on Sunday it would not be marking the one-year anniversary of Ebola — either May 24 when the pregnant woman entered Kenema hospital or May 25 when she and her companion were diagnosed.