GENEVA: Death toll in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has risen to 887 and 1,603 more have been infected, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.
It said that between July 31 and August 1, a total of 163 new cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD; laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) as well as 61 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. Three of these cases are in Nigeria and include two new probable cases — one is a health-care worker and one is a Nigerian who traveled to Guinea — and a suspected case in a nurse.
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan visited Guinea and held high-level meetings with the presidents of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone to review the status of the Ebola epidemic and adopt common strategies to eradicate Ebola from the sub-region.
“The scale of the Ebola outbreak, and the persistent threat it poses, requires WHO and Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to take the response to a new level, and this will require increased resources, in-country medical expertise, regional preparedness and coordination. The countries have identified what they need, and WHO is reaching out to the international community to drive the response plan forward,” she said.
Chan announced a large-scale response plan to fight the Ebola outbreak. The emergency relief fund is about 30 million U.S. dollars and another 70 million are expected to come from donor countries, organizations and individuals.
Key elements of the new plan include strategies to stop transmission of Ebola virus disease in the affected countries through scaling up effective, evidence-based outbreak control measures; and to prevent the spread of Ebola virus disease to the neighboring at-risk countries through strengthening epidemic preparedness and response measures.
“WHO and affected and neighboring countries will renew efforts to mobilize communities and strengthen communication so that people know how to avoid infection and what to do if they fear they may have come into contact with the virus,” the organization said.
The plan also calls for sending hundreds of medical specialists to West African countries impacted by the disease. According to WHO, hundreds of doctors and more than 120 of its specialists are already working on the ground, and about 60 doctors have died from the Ebola virus disease.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said on August 2 it was “gravely concerned” over the Ebola virus disease spreading out of control across some of the poorest countries in West Africa.
It urged the governments, international organizations and donor countries to take urgent steps to stop the spread of the deadly disease.
Panu Saaristo, the IFRC’s emergency health coordinator, said “the Red Cross Red Crescent is extremely worried that the situation is spiraling out of control. The response capacity and resources of the government and humanitarian aid agencies in the affected countries are already stretched beyond the limit, and the virus continues to spread, making this the deadliest outbreak of Ebola ever.”
He welcomed the joint 100 million U.S. dollars plan, announced by the World Health Organization and the West African nations affected by the Ebola virus disease as “a positive step forward” in affording the crucial means to tackle the spread of the deadly disease.
At the same time, the IFRC is “gravely concerned” over “the slow and negligible response” from international community and is calling for an immediate scale-up of efforts.
It stressed that “only concerted action from the international community will enable the containment of this deadly virus”.
“The spread of the virus can only be halted with scaled-up support and coordinated action by all parties — governments, corporations, donors and aid organizations. We cannot continue to turn a blind eye on what is happening in western Africa. Inaction will cause the further spread of this deadly virus across the borders of this remote region, making true our fears.” Saaristo said. PNA