The World Health Organization (WHO) has temporarily pulled back its health workers from the Kailahun post in Sierra Leone to the capital after the announcement over the weekend that one of their health workers was infected.

“This was the responsible thing to do. The field team has been through a traumatic time through this incident,” says Dr Daniel Kertesz, WHO Representative in Sierra Leone. “They are exhausted from many weeks of heroic work, helping patients infected with Ebola. When you add a stressor like this, the risk of accidents increases.”

Today the Organization sent a team to the town near the border with Guinea to do a review of the incident on the colleague who became infected. The team will try to determine how the health worker became infected, review the living and working environment of all the workers, try to identify factors that increase risk of infection, and address these issues.

“We recognize that this will interrupt the work in the field for the short term, but it ensures we protect health workers and the help the community over the longer term,” says Dr Kertesz. “We are working rapidly to ensure we can return to the field as quickly as possible.”

Once the investigation has been completed and appropriate actions have been taken, WHO will move a team back to Kailahun. In the meantime, the laboratory work will be performed at the facilities in Kenema. The next team of health workers for the Kailahun deployment is waiting on standby in Freetown.