Ministry of Health and Sanitation

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Freetown, 7th January, 2020

Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation Contains Lassa fever Cases in Tonkolili District after 42 Days of Strict Medical Surveillance with no New Cases

The increase occurrence of Lassa fever cases, which started in Tonkolili District in November 2019, has finally been contained and brought under controlled after 42 days of strict medical surveillance with no new cases recorded among the 71 contacts monitored in Sierra Leone and the 171 contacts monitored oversees.

The Ministry of Health and Sanitation has therefore declared that the Lassa fever occurrence in Tonkolili District is no longer considered to be a national health emergency, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The district and different previously affected areas is now declared totally safe.

The Ministry of Health & Sanitation commends the Tonkolili District Health Management Team & it’s district partners/stakeholders including the Tonkolili District Council & Paramount Chiefs, the Rapid Response Teams from Kenema Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers Unit and MOHS Central for their tireless effort in ensuring that this episode is brought to a speedy and positive conclusion. We want to also commend the clinical team of the Kenema VHF Unit in ensuring that we have a 0% Case Fatality Rate with no death reported.

The Ministry of Health & Sanitation wishes to express our deepest condolences to the bereaved family and the Dutch Governrnent for the loss of their national-Dr Wouter who came to support our health care delivery system in the Masanga Hospital. It is a tragic loss that we would have wished not to have occurred. We are happy though to inform all that, the other Dutch doctor survived the infection and is doing fine, preparing to return back to Sierra Leone together with colleagues to continue working at the Masanga Hospital. We are looking forward to the joyful moment of their return and resumption of full services at the Masanga Hospital pretty soon.

“Sierra Leone is to be applauded for attaining this important milestone in the fight against Lassa fever,” says Prof. Alpha T. Wurie, Minister of Health and Sanitation.

“But we should not put down our guards. We must use the lessons learnt to better prepare for at-risk regions in the country to conduct rapid detection and response.” Says Evans Liyosi, WHO Representative in Sierra Leone.

“Early detection and prompt treatment can prevent loss of lives,” said Dr. Donald Bash-Taqi, Ag. Chief Medical Officer.

The Ministry of Health & Sanitation has urged local communities to remain vigilant and report “any rumours” of new cases to the health authorities.

WHO, US-CDC, USAID, DFID, and other organizations and partners continue to support the Sierra Leone government’s efforts to respond effectively to disease threats of any nature or form.

Lassa fever should at all times be considered in people presenting with fever, headache, sore throat, general body weakness(and bleeding), especially when malaria has been ruled out with a rapid diagnostic test (RDT), and when patients are not improving.

Health workers should therefore follow standard precautions, and wear protective gears like gloves, face masks, face shields and aprons when handling suspected Lassa fever patients at all times. Health care workers are also reminded to always comply with Infection Prevention Control (IPC) requirements for quality service delivery

“The manner in which this Lassa Fever outbreak is been managed shows how far we have come and advanced in outbreak management: DHMTs are more than ready to respond within the shortest possible time; national and partners very effective in supporting the districts. The system is showing its resilience”: Dr Alie H Wurie- National Incident Manager & Team Lead- Tonkolili Lassa Fever Outbreak: Nov 2019


The MOHS advises all to focus on prevention by practicing good personal and food hygiene and report any concerns about their health or that of others through 117.

The ministry remains committed to protect the health of its citizens as it works vigorously to prevent and control diseases and conditions of public health importance..

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For more information, please contact:

At the Ministry of Health and Sanitation

Harold Thomas

Communications Lead/Prog. Manager, Health Education

Ministry of Health and Sanitation


Phone: +232 76 602 460


Dr. Donald Bash-Taqi

Ag. Chief Medical Officer




At the World Health Organization

Saffea Gborie – Communications Officer World Health Organization, Sierra Leone


Phone: +232 76 777 878

Emmanuel Ogundeyi

Emmanuel Abiodun Ogundeyi Website Administrator Directorate of Health Security And Emergency - MoHS Communication Department