ebola sierra leone
A health worker wearing protective equipment assists a patient at the Kenama Ebola treatment centre in Sierra LeoneAFP

The northern province of Sierra Leone which for the past six months had not reported a single Ebola case has now been hit by the deadly virus. Health authorities have quarantined nearly 700 people after a 16-year-old girl from the rural suburb of the city of Makeni succumbed to the disease.

A medical examination of the deceased tested positive for Ebola but the source of the infection is still unknown. The news of the Ebola outbreak is a setback for the country as it had been desperately trying to end the transmission of the lethal virus, which till date has killed nearly 4,000 in Sierra Leone.

The West African Ebola outbreak has killed more than 11,000 out of 28,000 people infected since the outbreak first emerged in December 2013 in Guinea.

Over 680 people in the village of Robureh are now under a 21-day quarantine. They include the deceased girl's parents, close relatives, classmates and the entire village where the girl succumbed to the disease. Health ministry spokesman Seray Turay said those who are under quarantine are considered as high risk although they have not shown any signs or symptoms of the lethal virus.

In August, a patient thought to be the last known Ebola victim, was released after recovering from a Makeni hospital which had prompted Sierra Leone to initiate a countdown which would last for 42 days according to World Health Organization norms so as to be declared Ebola-free. But, nearly two weeks ago a 67-year-old food trader died of Ebola in the northern Kambia district. This has led to the quarantine of 1,524 people across the two districts of Robureh and Kambia.

Four Ebola patients undergoing treatment are relatives of the woman who died in Kambia district, officials said, adding that a niece who is also at risk could not be traced. The total number of people killed from the virus in Kambia stands at 159.