Ebola Emergency - Letter from the Prior General

Dear Brothers and dear Co-Workers ,

 This is to inform you that last Friday,  Bro Manuel García Viejo, a surgeon at the Hospital of St John of God in Lunsar (Sierra Leone), tested positive for the Ebola virus. He was repatriated to Spain last night so he can be treated and cared for as well as possible at the Carlos III Hospital in Madrid. His state of health is unfortunately not good.

 It was decided to repatriate him in accordance with Bro Manuel’s own wishes. After receiving his test results, it was he who asked to be flown to Spain. That was made possible thanks to the active collaboration of the Spanish Government, which has given us unfailing support.

 We do not know exactly how the contagion happened. The Lunsar Hospital was in fact closed in accord with the local government after several cases of Ebola occurred there, and it reopened only last September 8 following disinfection and a period of quarantine.  We suppose that the contagion must have taken place some time after that date, even though all possible preventive measures were taken.

 This represents a very complex moment for all of us, and especially for our Brothers and Co-Workers in Sierra Leone, where we hope there will be no further cases of contagion. As for the hospital, we intend, in agreement with the Apoostolic Administrator for the Diocese, to close it again. At this time we cannot carry on alone and therefore need to coordinate with, and get help from, the Government, the Church and international organizations active in the health sector so that we can continue doing adequate and effective work. Under the right conditions, we are willing for our Centres to be another link in the chain of current or future projects implemented to respond to this difficult situation. Once more I ask all of you for your support and your prayers.

 As you know, the epidemic is still out of control, with growing numbers of people sickening and dying.  It seems that the international community is reacting with greater determination and major support measures are expected both in terms of human resources and in terms of supplies and financing. Our intention, both in Liberia and Sierra Leone, is to remain in the service of the populations of those two nations, according to the criteria I noted above, especially since this is a time when their need for us is greatest.  I cannot pretend, however, that this is not becoming hard for us, especially after what happened in Lunsar.

 In these very difficult moments, we stand together the African Province of St Augustine and the Communities and Centres in Liberia and Sierra Leone so that the whole Order can continue to provide the answer which the Lord, the Church and the countries involved all expect of us.

 We pray for Bro Manuel García Viejo and all the Brothers and Co-Workers in both centres and ask the Lord, through the intercession of St John of God, to give us the strength and the courage to continue to bear and bring the Gospel of Hospitality to all those who are suffering because of this terrible epidemic.

 With my fraternal greetings, united in the Lord and in St John of God.

 Bro Jesús Etayo

Prior General 


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