FREETOWN (Reuters) - A military medic at Sierra Leone’s peacekeeping training center in the capital Freetown has tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus, the spokesman for the West African nation’s armed forces said on Tuesday.
Colonel Michael Samoura had earlier told Reuters the infected man belonged to a battalion of some 870 soldiers due to be deployed as peacekeepers with the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in Somalia.
However, he later said the medic was not part of the force. The contingent would not be quarantined but could be placed under observation, Samoura added.
“We cannot rule that out but really there is no cause for alarm as far as the peacekeepers are concerned, because the peacekeepers have their own area where they are encamped. They have their billets far from where this individual was operating,” he said.
A second senior military official, who earlier had said the contingent would face a 21-day quarantine, declined to comment further when contacted by Reuters.
The battalion was due to relieve Sierra Leone’s contingent already participating in the mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, in July, but their deployment was delayed due to administrative issues, Samoura said.
More than 4,000 people have died in the worst epidemic of the viral hemorrhagic fever on record, most of them in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Cases of the disease have also been recorded in Nigeria, Senegal, Spain and the United States, but outbreaks in those countries have been contained so far.
(Corrects with army spokesman retracting earlier statement that AU peacekeeper had tested positive for Ebola)
Reporting by Umaru Fofana; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Gareth Jones