Ministry of Health and Sanitation


Freetown, 25th November, 2019

Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation Initiates Immediate Response to Increasing Lassa fever Cases in Tonkolili District

The Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) wishes to inform the general public that as a result of the  incidence of Lassa Fever infection in Tonkolili district, there has been a sudden increase of cases of the disease.

Two (2) probable cases were surgically operated on 4th November 2019 by a medical team, of these two (2) are confirmed positive for Lassa fever. Among the three (3) lab confirmed cases, one (1) is admitted in the Lassa fever Unit in Kenema District and two (2) have been medically evacuated to the Netherlands as it is their home country. One of the evacuated health worker has died according to Dutch authorities.   One lab indeterminate case (suspected) is also admitted in the Lassa Fever Unit in Kenema District.

Meanwhile, a total of forty eight (48) contacts have been line listed for strict medical surveillance, including twenty nine (29) health workers.

Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness, transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated by infected rats (Mastomys natalensis) Human-to-Human transmission can occur, in hospital settings in the absence of adequate infection prevention control measures. Health care workers are mostly at risk of contracting the disease, where infection prevention and control measures are not strictly followed.

The MoHS is warning all to take the necessary preventive measures, “Although we have been cautious of Lassa fever all this while, for the disease to spread through health facility transmission, gives health authorities the cause for concern and vigilance. It is tragic whenever health workers are infected in the line of duty” says Dr. Allie Wurie, Team Lead of the Rapid Response Team, MoHS.

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.

“WHO, CDC and other partners are working with Ministry of Health and Sanitation to support the investigation and follow up of cases of Lassa fever in Sierra Leone, and with health authorities of other countries to share information and provide guidance as needed,” says Evans Liyosi, WHO Representative in Sierra Leone.

Whilst the MoHS and partners are vigorously working to put the situation under control, the ministry remains committed to prevent and respond to all public health threats.

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For more information, please contact:

At the Ministry of Health and Sanitation

Harold Thomas

Communications Lead/Ag. Prog. Manager, Health Education

Ministry of Health and Sanitation


Phone: +232 76 602 460




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