The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is waning now, and will eventually disappear altogether, but how long will it take before the embers are extinguished too? Three days ago, the calm atmosphere was interrupted by a group of fishermen: one of them had felt ill and had died right there on his boat just a few hours later. The boats stay out at sea for up to two days, scouring the islands and then selling the fish in the villages along the coast. By the time they arrived back in the little port of Aberdeen, another of the fishermen on board was dead. The next day, the first patient came in. Then another two, followed by three in the evening… within three days we received 12 people, most of them in serious condition with a hemorrhagic form of the illness that we’d rarely seen in recent months. They bleed from the mouth, nostrils and intestines. Three of them have already died despite huge blood transfusions. It’s always hard to see people die, but it’s even harder if they die bit by bit in spite of all our efforts. That evening the faces of all the team members showed that they were exhausted but, above all, sad. But we can’t give in to discouragement. Over 700 cases have been put into quarantine, and more than 1,200 contacts have been traced. A little while ago, our ambulance set out to pick up another 5 suspected cases here in the fishing village near our homes.
— Gino Strada, Freetown, 14 February
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