Sierra Leone announces house-to-house searches for Ebola patients

DECEMBER 17, 2014

Sierra Leone, one of the West African countries worst hit by the 2014 Ebola outbreak, has announced that it will start house-to-house searches for Ebola patients on Wednesday.

President Ernest Bai Koroma also said that his government would impose internal travel restrictions as part of a new push to combat the epidemic.

Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are at the heart of the world's worst recorded outbreak of Ebola.

Rates of infection are rising fastest in Sierra Leone and the country has more than half of the 18,000 confirmed cases of the virus.

Ebola survivor returning to Liberia to fight the virus

Meanwhile, a US volunteer, Dr. Rick Sacra has announced that he is returning to Liberia, where he contracted the Ebola virus in August, in January to resume working as a medical missionary.

He plans to spend four weeks at an Eternal Love Winning Africa (ELWA) Hospital, a clinic outside Monrovia where he contracted the ebola.

Sacra, one of about 10 people treated for Ebola in the US, said he "feels great" and that doctors have said he's now effectively immune to Ebola, which has no vaccine.

"I'm not hearing a lot of push back from home," Sacra said. "I've been working there for years, and my risk at this point is no different than it was before because I'm immune to Ebola."

Sacra spent weeks in treatment at an Omaha, Nebraska, hospital before returning home in September. The University of Massachusetts Medical School faculty member has worked in medical missions in Liberia for more than 20 years, including the North Carolina-based charity SIM, which founded ELWA Hospital.

He said ELWA Hospital has changed its protocols following his illness.

"Even if we haven't suspected Ebola in that patient, we're now wearing full protective gear at our facility for deliveries," he said.

"When we're doing surgeries, we're now getting bleached down at the end, which we weren't doing before."