UK

Commonwealth Games Athletes From Ebola-Stricken Sierra Leone Say 'Don't Send Us Home!'

02/08/2014 10:14 BST | Updated 02/08/2014 10:59 BST
CELLOU BINANI via Getty Images
A picture taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. The World Health Organization has warned that Ebola could spread beyond hard-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to neighbouring nations, but insisted that travel bans were not the answer. To date, there have been 635 cases of haemorrhagic fever in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, most confirmed as Ebola. A total of 399 people have died, 280 of them in Guinea. AFP PHOTO / CELLOU BINANI (Photo credit should read CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Many members of Sierra Leone's Commonwealth Games team do not want to return home amid fears over the killer Ebola virus outbreak in their country, it has been reported.

Unisa Deen Kargbo, the team's chef de mission, told The Times that the delegation are worried about the situation at home, where a public health emergency has been declared.

Yesterday it emerged that Sierra Leone cyclist Moses Sesay, 32, was admitted to a Glasgow hospital last week after feeling unwell and doctors tested him for various conditions, including Ebola - which is blamed for 729 deaths in an outbreak in four west African countries.

But Sesay was given the all clear and released from hospital in time to compete in the men's individual time trial at the Games yesterday.

moses sesay

Cyclist Sesay Moses Lansana, who was tested for ebola, and Seisay Augustine of Sierra Leone (R)

Confusion surrounds the whereabouts of another Sierra Leone athlete, Mohamed Tholley, who had been expected to compete in the time trial event in Glasgow on Thursday but failed to turn up, the Telegraph newspaper reported.

Mr Kargbo told the newspaper: “Unfortunately one of our athletes has not turned up for his event and we do not know where he is. It is possible he is not coming back.

“The situation is very serious at home, and it is possible this is why he does not want to return. It is very bad there."

Ebola, which has also infected two American aid workers and killed the top Ebola doctor in Sierra Leone, is extremely contagious, and can be passed from person to person via bodily fluids (such as blood, sweat and urine), as well as contaminated objects. It's marked by flu-like symptoms, as well as bleeding from the eyes, ears, mouth, nose and rectum.

The virus is known to kill up to 90% of people who are infected by it, though the fatality rate for this current outbreak is 60 percent, NBC News reported.

To The Times, Mr Kargbo said: "Many people are thinking whether or not to go home now. Everybody is worried and many of them don't want to go home now because of the Ebola.

"We have held several meetings with them, but they are still worried. This virus is spreading around our country and everyone is at risk of catching it. The problem is, if they want to stay on after the Commonwealth Games end, who will take care of them?

"They will have no accommodation, no work. How do they meet their needs? How will they get themselves employed?"

He said that the athletes will be forced to return to Sierra Leone if these issues are not addressed.

Asked yesterday if there were any other athletes in isolation in Glasgow hospitals awaiting test results for Ebola, Jackie Brock-Doyle, a spokeswoman for Glasgow 2014, said: "No, just to be really clear, there is no Ebola in the athletes' village, there is no Ebola virus in Scotland. I want to be really, really clear about that."

A spokeswoman for Health Protection Scotland also said it was an isolated incident and no other athletes were tested. “No one has tested positive for Ebola in Scotland,” she said.

Commenting on how Scotland is dealing with any potential Ebola cases, Dr Colin Ramsay, of Health Protection Scotland, told BBC Radio Scotland: “There’s been no programme of actively screening athletes simply because of the Commonwealth Games.

“The situation is that if someone presents with symptoms suggestive of the possibility of Ebola virus infection and who has come from a country affected by the current outbreak – and that’s Sierra Leone and Guinea and Liberia – they would be investigated accordingly and that would involve managing them with a set of standard precautions.

“People in this sort of situation would be investigated for a number of conditions, not just Ebola. Sometimes people have more common diseases such as malaria so they are given a battery of tests to exclude all these diseases, but there are special tests that would be done for Ebola in these circumstances if someone has been in a country affected by the outbreak in the relevant period.”

He said steps have been taken to remind healthcare practitioners across the whole of the UK about being aware of Ebola infection, particularly in people coming from those affected countries and that guidelines are in place outlining how to deal with the situation.