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Friday, October 15, 2021

Ebola outbreak: 25 more deaths confirmed in West Africa

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said 50 new cases of the deadly disease had also been reported. 

A WHO spokesman said health workers were struggling to contain the outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.  On Monday, a doctor in Ghana said preliminary tests on a US citizen showed he did not have the disease.  But further tests are now being carried out. The man had recently visited Sierra Leone and Guinea and was quarantined after showing signs of the virus. 

In a statement on Tuesday, the WHO said the latest figures from health ministries in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea showed a total of 844 cases since the epidemic began in February. Guinea’s ministry reported two deaths since 3 July but no new cases in the past week, the WHO said, calling the situation in the affected region of West Africa a “mixed picture”. It said Sierra Leone had accounted for 34 of the new cases and 14 deaths, while Liberia reported 16 new cases and 9 deaths. 

“These numbers indicate that active viral transmission continues in the community,” the statement said.  WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said the two main modes of transmission were people caring for sick relatives at home and people attending funerals of victims. 

“If we don’t stop the transmission in the several hotspots in the three countries we will not be able to say that we control the outbreak,” she said. Last week, health ministers from 11 West African countries adopted a common strategy to fight the outbreak. 

At an emergency meeting in Ghana last Thursday, ministers promised better collaboration to fight what has become the world’s deadliest outbreak to date. Under the new strategy, the WHO will open a sub-regional control centre in Guinea to co-ordinate technical support.

Surveillance

Meanwhile, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health, Macky Taal, has said that The Gambia continues to strengthen surveillance. Speaking to journalists at a press briefing held at the ministry’s conference hall, the health officials admitted that the disease was posing the biggest threat to the sub-region and that even though The Gambia is yet to be affected, all measures are being taken to strengthen the surveillance and prevention mechanisms.

“We extend our sympathies to the hard-hit neighbours. We are assuring all Gambians that we will continue to strengthen our preventive measures and capabilities to monitor and contain this pandemic should it show up here. Tackling the disease in the sub-region can be challenging which is why at the recently-concluded meeting of our health ministers in Ghana, the issue was on top of their agenda,” he said.

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