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Ebola Spreads to Sierra Leone Capital of Freetown as Deaths Rise

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July 12 (Bloomberg) -- The worst outbreak of Ebola moved to Sierra Leone’s capital of Freetown where an Egyptian was found with the city’s first confirmed case of the disease.

The unidentified Egyptian national had traveled from Kenema, the largest city in the nation’s Eastern Province, and checked into a clinic east of Freetown, Sidie Yahya Tunis, director of Information, Communication and Technology at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, said by phone today. The person was moved back to the Ebola center in Kenema, he said.

“The Ebola disease usually spreads to other places when suspected or confirmed cases in one community move to another, they abandon treatment centers to stay with relatives or they seek treatment outside the Ebola centers,” Tunis said.

There have been 99 Ebola deaths in Sierra Leone out of 315 laboratory-confirmed cases, the ministry said in an e-mailed statement today. The ministry said yesterday that 92 people had died out of 305 cases. Cases of the hemorrhagic fever have killed more than 540 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia in an outbreak that according to the World Health Organization may last another three to four months.

The toll is greater than the 280 people killed in 1976, when the virus was first identified near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. The rapid spread of the virus is largely due to people moving across borders as well as cultural practices that are contrary to public health guidelines, such as people touching the body of a deceased relative before the funeral.

To contact the reporter on this story: Silas Gbandia in Freetown at sgbandia@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Vernon Wessels at vwessels@bloomberg.net Marco Bertacche

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