West Africa Ebola outbreak total tops 1,000
(Ed. Note:I suspect the number to be much higher!)
Jul 21, 2014
As 67 new Ebola virus disease (EVD) illnesses in Sierra Leone and Liberia pushed the outbreak total to 1,048 cases, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned about the risk of virus transmission from wildlife, especially fruit bats.
Along with new infections, 19 more deaths were reported in Sierra Leone and Liberia, raising the fatality count to 632, according to a Jul 19 update from the World Health Organization (WHO) that covers new cases reported from Jul 15 to Jul 17.
The WHO said the outbreak shows a decline in Guinea, which was the first country hit by the outbreak, the biggest and deadliest one of its kind so far. The country reported no new cases or deaths during the reporting period.
However the country’s neighbors Sierra Leone and Liberia reported a steady rise in cases at a level that the WHO said was serious.
Sierra Leone situation
Sierra Leone reported 45 new illnesses and 9 deaths, lifting the country’s total so far to 442 cases, 206 of them fatal. The country has for the first time more cases than Guinea, which has logged 410.
Gambia has sent a team of 11 healthcare workers to help Sierra Leone with its outbreak response, based on a call for regional collaboration made at an early July health minister’s meeting in Accra, Ghana. The WHO added that the team will help with critical human resource needs, but the mission will also help boost preparedness in Gambia.
Meanwhile, Sierra Leone’s religious leaders have criticized the government’s management of the outbreak response, noting that a lack of information is fueling rural community resistance to medical help, Reuters reported today.
Bishop John Yambasu, head of the United Methodist Church of Sierra Leone and chair of an interfaith task group, said he was disappointment that the government hasn’t declared a public health emergency, which he said would increase resources for outbreak response, according to Reuters. He accused the government of being too concerned about the political ramifications of declaring an emergency.
The country’s health minister has said the outbreak is serious but hasn’t reached emergency levels, Reuters said.
Meanwhile, Liberia reported 22 more infections and 10 deaths to the WHO. The numbers boost the country’s total to 196 cases, which includes 116 deaths.
The WHO said it, Liberia’s health ministry, and its other health partners are assessing the outbreak response in each country to identify challenges and help set priorities.
A recently completed assessment in Liberia identified a number of gaps, including low coverage of contact tracing; persistent denial about the disease and resistance to response activities in the community; weak data management; inadequate infection and control practices, especially in outlying health facilities; and weak leadership and coordination at the subnational level.
The WHO said some of the challenges are driven by a lack of financial resources and human technical capacity. The agency added that authorities are mapping out the financial, logistics, and human resources needs as part of a national operational plan to battle the EVD outbreak.
Similar assessments are under way for Guinea and Sierra Leone, as well, the WHO said.