MS Risk Blog

Ebola Outbreak in West Africa Passes 100 Mark

Posted on in Africa, Guinea, Liberia title_rule

As Ebola deaths in Guinea pass the 100 mark, World Health Organization (WHO) officials have indicated that the latest outbreak of the deadly virus is the “most challenging.”

On Tuesday, the United Nations World Health Organization stated that the number of people believed to have been killed by the Ebola virus in Guinea has passed 100, adding that it was “one of the most challenging Ebola outbreaks we have ever dealt with,” and noting that it could take another four months to contain the deadly virus.

Officials at the WHO have stated that there are currently 157 cases in Guinea, where 101 people have died. Twenty cases have been reported in Guinea’s capital city, Conakry. Sixty-seven of these cases have been confirmed as Ebola. Liberia has also recorded 21 cases and 10 deaths.

While southern Guinea is the epicentre of the outbreak, with the first case reported last month, porous borders amongst many West African states coupled with people frequently travelling between countries, have led to the virus spreading to Liberia. Officials however did receive some good news earlier this week when tests showed that suspected cases in Ghana and Sierra Leone were not Ebola. Two of nine suspected cases in Mali were also cleared. However Dr Keiji Fukuda of the WHO has warned that it is still too early to say whether the rate of transmission is slowing but that the outbreak is far from over. The geographical spread of the outbreak is continuing to make it particularly challenging to contain as past outbreaks involved much smaller areas.

Meanwhile on Saturday, officials in Guinea appealed for calm in the Ebola-hit southern region of the country after a group of international aid workers battling to contain an outbreak of the deadly virus were attacked by a mob. Sources have indicated that Doctors Without Borders (MSF) was forced to suspend its operations in Macenta, in south-eastern Guinea, on Friday after crowds attacked one of its centres. Officials in Conakry later indicated that the crowd had gathered as rumours circulated in the town that the virus was “imported into Guinea or that Ebola fever does not exist in our country.”

A statement issued by Guinea’s government on Saturday vowed that lawbreakers would be brought to justice and said it was “calling for calm and serenity to enable our partners to support us to eradicate this epidemic.” The statement further noted that “the government has protests against such information and reiterates that only the recognition of the existence of the disease will help fight against it.” In regards to the MSF’s work in Guinea, the statement indicated that “the contribution of MSF and all international organisations that are supporting Guinea in the fight against the pandemic is invaluable and has helped so far to contain the disease,” adding that “without these partners, the disease would not be under control today.” MSF has 52 international experts who are working alongside Guinean staff in Conakry and the provincial towns of Gueckedou and Macenta, which are located in the southern epicentre of the outbreak. The MSF’s spokesman Sam Taylor stated Saturday “”MSF’s head of mission is in Gueckedou to meet with the regional governor, senior health officials and local community leaders. We hope to restart our work as soon as possible.” Sources have indicated that MSF is planning to restart its Macenta operation as soon as possible. Treatment is continuing in Gueckedou, another town that has been badly hit by the outbreak.

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