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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Ebola hits Mali, 2-yr-old girl dies

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The girl had travelled with her grandmother hundreds of kilometres by bus from Guinea via Mali’s capital to the western town of Kayes, where she was diagnosed on Thursday. Health workers were scrambling to trace hundreds of potential contacts in a bid to prevent Ebola taking hold in Mali.

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The worst Ebola outbreak on record has killed 4,900 people, mainly in nearby Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. A global response to the epidemic is being rolled out but experts warn that tens of thousands more people are at risk.

In a statement on Friday night, Mali’s government confirmed the death of the girl, who has not been identified. “In this moment of sadness, the government would like to express its condolences to her family and reminds the population that maintain very strict hygiene rules remains the best way to contain this disease,” it said.

Mali is the sixth West African nation to record a case of Ebola. Senegal and Nigeria have successfully contained outbreaks and has been declared free of the disease. Spain and the United States have had a few cases. 

WHO said that an investigation into the girl’s case revealed that she had already started showing symptoms – and was therefore contagious – before being taken to Kayes.

“WHO is treating the situation in Mali as an emergency,” the UN health agency said in a statement. “The child’s symptomatic state during the bus journey is especially concerning, as it presented multiple opportunities for exposures – including high-risk exposures – involving many people,” it added.

The girl was seen by health workers on Oct 20 in Kayes but was referred to another hospital the next day where she tested positive for typhoid but was also bleeding from her nose. It was not until Oct. 23 that he tested positive for Ebola, WHO said.

WHO said that 43 contacts had been identified and isolated but a second Malian health official, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters that authorities estimated that at least 300 people had been in contact with the infected child.

Five experimental Ebola vaccines set for trial 

The WHO has said it expects hundreds of thousands of doses of a new Ebola vaccine to be available by early next year. Trials of a possible Ebola vaccine could begin in West Africa in December with the vaccine more widely available in the first half of next year.

WHO assistant director general Marie-Paule Kieny said: “Before the end of first half of 2015…we could have available a few hundred thousand doses. That could be 200,000 – it could be less or could be more.” She was speaking after WHO held talks about potential vaccines with health experts, officials from Ebola-affected nations and pharmaceutical firms.

There is currently no proven vaccine against the deadly virus and drug companies have previously West Africa’s Ebola outbreak began in March and has killed more than 4,900 people, most of them in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to the WHO.                                Reuters 

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