A Sierra Leone doctor died on Monday from Ebola, making him the fifth local doctor in the West African state to have succumbed to the haemorrhagic fever that has taken a heavy toll on the country’s medical personnel.
Dr Godffrey George, a medical superintendent at the Kambia Government Hospital in the north of the country, died after he tested positive for Ebola on Saturday, according to Sierra Leone’s Chief Medical Officer Brima Kargbo.
“He drove himself from Kambia on Friday after he started feeling unwell and checked himself into the Chinese hospital at Jui outside Freetown,” Kargbo said.
He added that George did not treat Ebola patients and might have contracted the virus through a patient he treated for another illness.
Sierra Leone is one of the countries worst affected by the largest outbreak of Ebola on record. The disease has killed 4,951 people out of 13,567 infected in eight countries.
Some 120 health workers – including nurses and other medical staff – have tested positive for the disease in Sierra Leone, with about 100 dead.
With its healthcare system still reeling from a 1991-2002 civil war, Sierra Leone had only just over 100 doctors for its 6 million people before the outbreak struck.
Many rural clinics lacked even basic medical supplies, such as plastic gloves, leaving medical staff vulnerable to infection by Ebola, whose early symptoms resemble cholera and malaria, common diseases in the region.
With international help gradually arriving, Britain was due to inaugurate on Wednesday an Ebola treatment centre in Kerry Town just outside Freetown with some 100 beds. It was built by British army engineers to be run by the non-governmental organisation Save the Children.