FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) - Foreign mining company personnel have left the country while others are undergoing body temperature screening at work sites, company officials said Tuesday as the death toll from an Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone rose to at least five victims.
The new cases come after the deadly virus that causes severe bleeding was blamed for about 200 deaths in neighboring Guinea and Liberia. The Ebola disease has had a 70 percent fatality rate during the first crisis of its kind in West Africa.
Deputy Information Minister Theo Nicol said the government was doing all it could to contain the “scourge” of Ebola. None of the 15 confirmed cases in Sierra Leone has been in the capital of Freetown.
London Mining Company spokesman Osman Lahai said Tuesday that eight of their non-essential staff had left Sierra Leone over the weekend as a result of the deadly viral outbreak. London Mining has advised all its non-essential staff who are on holiday abroad not to return to Sierra Leone, he said.
No cases have been reported near the company’s Marampa iron ore mine, and production has not been affected by the health scare. However, Lahai said the company also has introduced mandatory body temperature screening at their sites, and those with a high fever would be referred to hospital for further examination.
A spokesman for a second mining company, African Minerals, said body temperature screening also has been introduced at its sites. Anthony Navo said that employees also were being urged to stay away from areas that had recorded Ebola cases.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has hit some of the poorest countries in the world, where health care resources are already stretched. Sierra Leone is mineral-rich but its economy and health care system were ravaged by a decade-long civil war that ended in 2002. Some 60 percent of Sierra Leoneans get by on only $1.25 a day.