Ebola Spread Slows in Guinea, Liberia

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Progress in stopping the spread of the Ebola has been achieved in 2 West African countries, though new cases of the virus are increasing in a third.

Progress in stopping the spread of the Ebola has been achieved in 2 West African countries, though new cases of the virus are increasing in a third.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported yesterday that the number of Ebola cases reported nationally in Guinea and Liberia are no longer increasing, but new cases are still cropping up in Sierra Leone. Additionally, preparedness teams were sent this week to Benin, Burkina Faso, Gambia, and Senegal.

The WHO warned in a recent report that Ebola cases being imported into currently unaffected African countries represent a significant risk, especially in regions that are among the poorest on the planet.

“With adequate levels of preparation, however, such introductions of the disease can be contained before they develop into large outbreaks,” the report stated.

In addition to Benin, Burkina Faso, Gambia, and Senegal, the WHO said it has prioritized 11 other countries for technical assistance to prepare for a potential epidemic: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Togo.

The WHO highlighted containment efforts that led to the successful halting of Ebola spread in Nigeria and Senegal, which was attributed to effective political leadership, early detection and response, strong public awareness campaigns, and significant support from partner organizations.

In Mali, United Nations officials explored strategies to respond to a potential outbreak after there were 6 cases of Ebola reported with 5 deaths to date.

“A strong national leadership is an absolutely essential component of an effective response to the Ebola crisis,” said Anthony Banbury, head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, in a press release.

As of yesterday, there have been a total of 15,145 cases of Ebola in 6 countries (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Spain, and the United States) and 2 previously affected countries (Nigeria and Senegal), with 5420 reported deaths. Additionally, 584 health care workers have been infected, among whom there have been 329 fatalities.

“In the 3 countries with widespread and intense transmission, reported case incidence is no longer increasing nationally in Guinea and Liberia, but is still increasing in Sierra Leone,” the WHO report stated. “The outbreaks in Guinea and Liberia now appear to be driven by intense transmission in several key districts, whereas transmission is intense throughout the north and west of Sierra Leone, where the worst affected area remains the capital, Freetown.”

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