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Sierra Leonean Passenger faces 21 Day Temperature Checks in USA before being cleared of any Ebola Symptoms

By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya

Madam Ami Dumbuya is a Sierra Leonean as well as an American national. But the recent Ebola outbreak in her native Sierra Leone has led to her facing humiliation and stigmatization in her second country of citizenship. She has her own business establishments in Sierra Leone but while on regular and usual visit to the United States of America, Madam Ami says she is now a “leper” not just because of the screening process she faces at the O’Hare Airport in Chicago but for the manner in which officials of the Brussels airline treats any passenger from Ebola ravaged West African nations.

Madam Ami Dumbuya is a Sierra Leonean as well as an American national. But the recent Ebola outbreak in her native Sierra Leone has led to her facing humiliation and stigmatization in her second country of citizenship

Madam Ami Dumbuya is a Sierra Leonean as well as an American national. But the recent Ebola outbreak in her native Sierra Leone has led to her facing humiliation and stigmatization in her second country of citizenship

Ami Dumbuya told the NBC Chicago that “Immediately they found out that I was from Sierra Leone, they put a mask on me and walked me to the health center”. Ami was taken to a room where three people were dressed in protective gear and “they interviewed me, checked my temperature and made sure everything was ok then they released me”.

According to NBC, if officials had detected a fever, Dumbuya would have been referred for additional screening and possibly sent to a quarantine area or a nearby hospital.

Ami first experienced the unpleasant journey when Brussels officials abandoned her luggage in fear of contacting Ebola. She informed me that “I got screened at the airport in the US on arrival on Thursday 16th October but workers in Brussels refuse to handle our bags, hence they will not forward them along”.

According to Madam Ami, “When I landed in the US on Thursday, none of my bags made it including my hand luggage which they made me checked-in in Chicago”.

The unfortunate news for Ami is that when she called the airline to track down her luggage, they claimed they have been unable to locate her bags and “the last place it was seen was in Freetown. So I opted to call Brussels representative in Freetown and he has just informed me that all the bags are still in Brussels awaiting union approval for workers to touch or deal with our bags. This is beyond outrageous” she said.

As we went to press, Ami said her luggage is still in “Brussels as the workers union is still negotiating on how to handle our bags”. According to her, she feels “like a leper”.

Ami maintains that “I am both a Sierra Leonean and a US citizen. I am very proud of my Sierra Leonean nationality. Ebola or no Ebola. The stigma is rife but it is as a result of fear and lack of knowledge so I do not blame the perpetrators but rather the lack of proper information that is out there about the disease”.She said “before leaving Freetown, I was screened and we have better screening measures in place. My temperature was taken 3 times and a lot of hand washing was done and obviously I am still happy with the system of screening we have in place in Sierra Leone”.

She noted that in the Bible, God excused Man in saying that ‘the people perish because of lack of knowledge’. So we must be informed and seek to know how to combat this disease now more than ever,” adding that Sierra Leoneans must be selfless and put the nation first above all else. She encouraged all to report a suspected Ebola case to the nearest hospital and not to endanger the lives of others”.

Even though Ami was tested and screened for any Ebola symptoms for the next 21 days she has to have her temperature taken twice a day and report to a public health worker upon the reading of the temperature. “So in essence, I am still questionable for 21 days before I am cleared of any Ebola symptoms,” she explained. Leaving Ebola affected territories and going to America for one or two weeks these days will definitely not result in a happy stay in the most democratic and free nation in the world.

 

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