A piece of land earmarked for a new Sierra Leone National Olympic Committee headquarters looks set to become an emergency hospital for Ebola patients.
Ernest Bai Koroma, the nation’s President, said the proposed hospital at the site in Goderich is a vital part of the fight against the deadly virus that has now killed an estimated 1,200 in Sierra Leone out of a total of 4,555 deaths in West Africa since the beginning of this year.
The situation in Sierra Leone is continuing to deteriorate, with an increase in the number of newly reported cases in Freetown, Port Loko, Bombali and Moyamba last month, and Koroma said he will immediately begin negotiations on the land with the NOC.
He also admitted there is an urgent need for more laboratories and treatment centres and said he hoped to see the waiting time for test results to be brought down to at least four hours to help prevent the further spread of Ebola.
“We need these facilities today as there is no time to waste,” Koroma insisted.
“If we can increase our capacity of handling over five hundred samples a day; it will be helpful to handle the pressure.
“Forty-eight hours is not good as some will get infected while waiting.
“We should maintain the four hours and work on improving it further.”
Italian war surgeon Gino Strada, founder of the United Nations-recognised Non-Governmental organisation Emergency – which is working in Sierra Leone, also called on the NOC for the immediate use of the land.
“We only need the green light from you so that work will start as soon as possible,” he said.
Emergency is now collaborating with the country to develop both a treatment centre and a laboratory, and it is currently scheduling a meeting with the NOC to finalise arrangements for the construction of the facilities as soon as possible.
Earlier this year, the Ebola outbreak saw Sierra Leone withdraw from the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.