Efforts to contain the virus increase as death toll continues to rise.
Besieged West African nation Sierra Leone is currently under a 3-day lockdown that was launched on Friday in an effort to halt the spread of the Ebola virus.
As of September 18, 2014, the country has reported 1673 confirmed and suspected cases with 562 fatalities. Consequently, residents have been ordered to stay indoors and off the streets through the weekend.
“Some of the things we are asking you to do are difficult, but life is better than these difficulties,” said Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma in a report by the New York Times.
Overall, the epidemic has caused more than 2600 fatalities with more than 5300 confirmed and suspected cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“This is likely the greatest peacetime challenge that the United Nations (UN) and its agencies have ever faced,” said Margaret Chan, MD, director-general of the WHO, in an address to the UN Security Council. “None of us experienced in containing outbreaks has ever seen, in our lifetimes, an emergency on this scale, with this degree of suffering, and with this magnitude of cascading consequences. This is a social crisis, a humanitarian crisis, an economic crisis, and a threat to national security well beyond the outbreak zones.”
The current epidemic could infect more than 20,000 people before the outbreak is brought under control, according to the WHO. Under a hypothetical worst-case scenario, the current Ebola burden could expand to 277,124 patients by the end of 2014, according to researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Tokyo.
In response to the crisis, President Barack Obama announced earlier this week that the United States will send up to 3000 military personnel to the affected region. In addition, various companies and organizations have stepped up relief efforts for the Ebola crisis.
For instance, health care services company McKesson announced it will donate 4 million pairs of latex gloves to World Vision for distribution to health workers who have been treating patients without proper supplies.
"I am very thankful that we are in a position to donate these medical supplies at a time when the help is so desperately needed in West Africa," said Stanton McComb, president of McKesson Medical-Surgical, in a press release.
In addition to the gloves, World Vision is sending personal protective equipment that includes aprons, goggles, caps and covers, medical frocks, trousers, scrubs, and 8000 gallons of disinfectant.
"Health professionals and humanitarian aid workers are in an incredibly challenging and dangerous situation in Sierra Leone," said Leslie Scott, national director of World Vision Sierra Leone, in a press release. "These medical supplies will support the men and women who are putting their lives on the line to respond to the Ebola crisis."