UK firm evacuates some
staff from Sierra Leone over Ebola virus
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[June 03, 2014]
By Umaru Fofana
FREETOWN (Reuters) - Iron
ore producer London Mining has evacuated some
non-essential staff from Sierra Leone and imposed travel
restrictions due to an outbreak of the deadly Ebola
virus, the company said on Tuesday.
Sierra Leone last month recorded five deaths from Ebola, its first
confirmed fatalities from an outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever that
has is believed to have killed around 185 people in neighboring
Guinea and Liberia since March.
London Mining said its output had not been affected and no cases of
Ebola had been found in communities around the mine.
But a spokesman for the company, which operates the Marampa mine
some 120 km (75 miles) east of Freetown, said eight non-essential
staff had left Sierra Leone at the weekend and those abroad on
holiday had been advised not to return for now.
"The company has also restricted non-essential travel and all such
travels are approved by the managing director of London Mining,"
Osman Lahai said.
A spokesman for African Minerals, another British iron ore miner in
the West African state, said it had also introduced travel
restrictions on workers but operations were otherwise unaffected.
Both firms said they had put in place systems to screen the body
temperatures of people working on their sites.
An Ebola outbreak began earlier this year in Guinea's remote
southeast, spreading later to Guinea's capital, Conakry, and into
neighboring Liberia. Until last month, suspected cases of Ebola in
Sierra Leone had tested negative.
The confirmed cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone have all been located
close to the border with Guinea's Gueckedou prefecture, near the
epicenter of the regional outbreak.
Theo Nicol, Sierra Leone's deputy information minister, said the
government was doing everything it could to fight the disease and
all cases in the capital, Freetown, had tested negative so far.
[to top of second column]
Underscoring the challenges tackling a highly contagious disease
with a fatality rate of up to 90 percent in countries with some of
the weakest health systems in the world, relatives of an Ebola
patient in Sierra Leone took her home saying they did not trust the
care she was given.
Sierra Leone began exporting iron ore in 2011, fuelling economic
growth and highlighting the flood of investment into the country
during the decade since its civil war ended.
However, Sierra Leone remains one of the world's poorest and least
developed countries, and there is widespread frustration that
despite the mining boom, more than half of the population of 6
million lives on less than $1.25 per day.
(Additional reporting by Silvia Antonioli in London; Writing by
David Lewis; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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