Equipment wrapped in plastic inside the Kerry Town Ebola Treatment Centre in Sierra Leone before it opened. Photograph: Louis Leeson/AP
British-built Ebola hospital in Sierra Leone only partly operational
Residents cannot understand why beds are empty but Save the Children says phased opening is necessary to protect staff
The Ebola hospital built by the British army which opened two weeks ago in the capital of Sierra Leone will not be fully operational until January, it has emerged.
The facility was the first of six hospitals announced by the Department of International Development two months ago as part of Britain’s £250m assistance in the fight against Ebola in the country.
And while DFID’s plan has always been to phase in the facility, residents cannot understand why beds are empty while patients have nowhere to go because existing treatment centres are full.
The 80-bed hospital has treated just 18 patients so far.
Save the Children, which is managing the facility in Kerry Town, south of the capital Freetown, said it was increasing intake slowly to ensure the safety of its volunteer medical professionals.
“We are scaling up as fast as we can,” said a spokeswoman. “People are turning up, people are wanting to go in.”
She said the hospital was following a model used by Médecins Sans Frontières and under the direction of the clinical professionals leading the operation.
“The initial plan was always to take in five patients at first, the same as MSF. If you had 80 patients in at once it would not be safe. The risk of infection is too great.