Runaway Sierra Leone Ebola patient dies in ambulance
By Umaru Fofana
FREETOWN (Reuters) - A Sierra Leone Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment centre and took her to a traditional healer, died in an ambulance on the way to hospital, a health official said.
Health officials say fear and mistrust of health workers in Sierra Leone, where many have more faith in traditional medicine, are hindering efforts to contain an Ebola outbreak which has killed more than 450 people in the country.
In recent days crowds gathered outside clinics and hospitals to protest against what they see as a conspiracy, in some cases clashing with police as they threatened to burn down the buildings and remove the patients.
Amadu Sisi, a senior doctor at King Harman hospital in the capital Freetown, from which the patient was taken, said on Saturday that police found her in the house of a healer.
Her family refused to hand her over and a struggle ensued with police, who finally retrieved her and sent her to hospital, he said.
"She died in the ambulance on the way to another hospital," Sisi said.
Across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, at least 660 people have died from the worst outbreak yet of the haemorrhagic fever, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said, placing great strain on the health systems of some of Africa's poorest countries.
The virus is still spreading. A 33-year-old American doctor working for relief organisation Samaritan's Purse in Liberia tested positive for the disease on Saturday. In Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital, a Liberian man who tested positive died in on Friday. Continued...