FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — Two more Sierra Leonean doctors have died from Ebola, further depleting the West African country's ability to respond to the devastating outbreak, health officials said Saturday.
The deaths bring the number of Sierra Leonean doctors killed by Ebola to nine. The disease is spread through the bodily fluids of people showing symptoms and people who have died of the disease. Because transmission requires close contact with those fluids, health workers are among the most at risk of contracting it and hundreds have become infected in this outbreak.
Dr. Thomas Rogers, who had worked at Connaught Hospital in the capital, died Friday, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brima Kargbo. Dr. Dauda Koroma also died Friday, said Jonathan Abass Kamara, a spokesman for the Health Ministry.
In all, 11 Sierra Leonean doctors have been infected; one has been cured and another is still in treatment.
Ebola has sickened more than 17,500 people, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Of those, about 6,200 have died. The disease is currently spreading fastest in Sierra Leone.
The high number of infections in health workers has deterred many from volunteering to work on Ebola wards, especially local health workers. While foreign doctors and nurses who have become infected have been evacuated for treatment at world-class hospitals abroad, locals are typically treated in-country.
In an effort to address that disparity, special clinics dedicated to the treatment of health care workers and staffed by foreigners have opened in Sierra Leone and Liberia and another is planned for Guinea. Rogers was treated at one of those, a clinic in Kerry Town staffed by British army medics.