In the past several months, Dr. Sheik Umar Khan has been a leader in the fight against the deadliest and largest Ebola outbreak in history.
Khan, 39, has treated over 100 Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. He’s a “national hero,” the country’s health minister said Tuesday.
Now the doctor has caught the deadly virus himself, Reuters reports. Khan is being treated at an isolation ward in Kailahun, run by Doctors Without Borders, the Sierra Leone government said in a statement.
“He is a very respected medical professional in the country,” says Meredith Dyson, a health worker with Catholic Relief Services in Freetown, Sierra Leone. “Everybody here in Sierra Leone is praying for him right now.”
Since the outbreak started in March, more than 1,000 people have been infected in three countries; 604 people have died, the World Health Organization said Saturday. Sierra Leone has reported 442 cases and 206 deaths.
Khan had worked for years treating people for another viral disease, called Lassa fever, which causes symptoms similar to Ebola. When cases of Ebola started to emerge in Sierra Leone, Khan immediately turned his attention to the outbreak and started treating patients at a hospital in Kenema.
On Sunday, three nurses at that hospital died of Ebola, Dyson says. “The rest of the nurses went on strike on Monday because they were concerned about the conditions in the hospital,” she says. “They felt that they weren’t getting the equipment they need to protect themselves from the virus.”
SOURCE: MICHAELEEN DOUCLEFF