A battalion of 800 Sierra Leone soldiers awaiting deployment as peacekeepers in Somalia has been placed in quarantine after one of its members tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus, military officials said on Tuesday.
The soldiers were due to relieve the West African nation’s contingent already deployed with Somalia’s African Union peacekeeping mission, known as AMISOM.
However, they will now be subject to a 21-day isolation period, a senior officer in Sierra Leone’s army told Reuters, asking not to be named.
Colonel Michael Samoura, spokesman of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, confirmed that a member of the battalion had tested positive for the disease.
He said the soldier was infected after leaving without permission the military camp where the force is based.
More than 4,000 people have died in the worst epidemic of the viral haemorrhagic 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.