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Ebola outbreak’s spread in West Africa is slowing down, but it’s not over yet


The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) supports MSF, WHO and IFRC in their efforts to contain the epidemic. (Photo Credit: ©EC/ECHO)

The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) supports MSF, WHO and IFRC in their efforts to contain the epidemic. (Photo Credit: ©EC/ECHO)

Signs that the outbreak’s spread is slowing are beginning to show, as only a handful of new probable cases have been recorded for the past couple of weeks, according to World Health Organization (WHO)’s latest data. However, it is not over yet.

As of 7 May, there was one patient in isolation in Conakry and two in Guekedou. The date of isolation of the most recent confirmed case is 26 April in Conakry and 7 May in Guekedou. There have been no new alerts in Liberia or Sierra Leone. Liberia is preparing to host a cross- border meeting with Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone. The outbreak’s death toll was of at least 168 people in Guinea and Liberia.

World Health Organization will continue to support the Ministries of Health of Guinea and Liberia in their Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) prevention and to control activities. As of 7 May, 113 experts have been deployed to assist in the response.  EVD outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90% and no specific treatment is available. The outbreak in West Africa has a case fatality rate of about 70%. Currently, new drug therapies are being evaluated, according to the WHO. Usually, doctors wait 42 days after the last infection before declaring an outbreak over, as Ebola can incubate for up to 21 days before showing any symptoms.

EU has also stepped up its efforts to contain the spread of the outbreak in West Africa and increased its funding for immediate health operations, experts and risk assessments to €1.1 million. EU is also contributing with medical equipment to help accelerate diagnosis. Furthermore, the new funds will support the World Health Organization (WHO) in ensuring the epidemiological surveillance and providing medical supplies, equipment, transport logistics and health staff, according to EU’s official statement.

This is the first Ebola virus outbreak registered in the region. The virus was first discovered in DR Congo and Sudan in 1976, with several outbreaks of the virus being reported in East and Central Africa, but not in West Africa.

 

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