Category Archives: Senegal

WHO Declares Nigeria and Senegal Ebola-Free

Posted on in Nigeria, Senegal, West Africa title_rule

With six weeks of no new Ebola cases, on Monday officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Nigeria officially free of Ebola, just three days after officials declared Senegal Ebola-free. While it is a containment victory in an outbreak that continues to rage in three West African countries, both states are not immune from another outbreak however their methods of containment may be used in future outbreaks.


On Monday, officials at the WHO declared Nigeria Ebola-free after six weeks of no new reported cases. For officials to declare the country Ebola-free, Nigeria had to make it 42 days with no new cases, effectively double the incubation period, verify that it actively sought out all possible contacts, and show negative test results for any remaining suspected cases.

Nigeria had a total of twenty cases after a Liberian-American man, Patrick Sawyer, flew into Lagos international airport on July 20 and collapsed shortly afterwards. As Nigeria had no previous screening procedures in place, the deadly virus ultimately killed eight people, a low number in comparison to the thousands of cases and deaths in other countries, with the disease spreading from Lagos to Port Harcourt before it was contained. Amongst those who died was Dr Ameyo Stella Adadevo, who diagnosed Mr Sawyer and who is credited with helping to contain the outbreak at its source. The last reported case in Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous country, was discovered on 5 September.

Speaking to reporters shortly after the declaration, Nigerian Minister of Health Onyebuchi Chukwu disclosed “its possible to control Ebola. Its possible to defeat Ebola. We’ve seen it here in Nigeria,” adding “if any cases emerge in the future, it will be considered – by international standards – a separate outbreak. If that happens, Nigeria will be ready and able to confront it exactly as we have done with this outbreak.”

Nigeria has won praise for its swift response to the outbreak. With the epidemic raging in Western Africa since March, officials knew that there was a likelihood that a case of Ebola could surface within its borders. This prompted officials to train health care workers on how to manage the disease and to disseminate information across the country about the disease and how it spreads. Shortly after Mr Sawyer’s death, the Nigerian government declared a national public health emergency. This effectively enabled the Ministry of Health to set up its Ebola Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), which is an assembly of public health experts within Nigeria, and which includes officials from the WHO, Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and medical aid groups such as Doctors Without Borders. The EOC was tasked with contact tracing, implementing strict procedures for handling and treating patients, screening all individuals arriving or departing the country by land, air and sea and communicating with the community. Some EOC workers were involved in going door-to-door to offer Ebola-related education while others worked with religious and professional leaders to spread information about the disease. While in the beginning, there had been some misinformation about available cures and rumours circulating across the country, Nigerian officials used social media in order to increase awareness efforts and publicized those patients who had been successfully treated and discharged from hospital. While other regional countries opted to close their borders with those affected countries, Nigeria chose to keep its borders open with Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, indicating that such a move would have been counterproductive. According to Dr Faisal Shuaib of the EOC, “closing borders tends to reinforce panic and the notion of helplessness….When you close the legal points of entry, then you potentially drive people to use illegal passages, thus compounding the problem,” adding that if “public health strategies are implemented, outbreaks can be controlled, and that closing borders would only stifle commercial activities in the countries where economies are already struggling due to Ebola.”

Despite being declared Ebola-free, Nigerian authorities are preparing for any additional outbreaks as the current Ebola epidemic in West Africa is far from over and a spread to additional countries, including Nigeria and Senegal, remains possible. Nigeria has not slowed down its training and preparations for the possibility of more cases, with Dr Shuaib disclosing “outbreak response preparedness is a continuous process that requires constant review of the level of the response mechanisms in place to ensure that the health system is ready to jump into action at all levels.” 


On Friday, the WHO declared Senegal, which borders with Guinea, clear of the disease. The agency made the assessment after the West African country went forty-two days, without reporting any new cases. The WHO has commended the Senegalese government’s efforts at preventing the spread of the virus. In late August, Senegal had one confirmed case of Ebola, an imported one from Guinea, which prompted officials to monitor seventy-four contacts of the patient and increase surveillance at the country’s entry points.

In new figures released by the UN health Agency Friday, 4,555 people have died of confirmed, suspected or probable cases of Ebola, with almost all of the deaths occurring in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. A total of 9,216 cases have been reported. An estimated 70% of those infected with the deadly disease have died in those countries. The situation in all three West African countries has continued to worsen, with deaths attributed to the disease on the rise in all three.

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Ebola Cases Continue To Rise; Nigeria and Senegal Could Be Declared Ebola-Free in Days

Posted on in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, West Africa title_rule

New figures released by the World Health Organisation on Tuesday 14 October revealed that over 8,900 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) have been reported in seven affected countries: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain and the United States of America. As of 14 October there have been 4,447 deaths. Health workers have been hit hard by the outbreak, with Doctors Without Borders reporting that sixteen of its employees have been infected with Ebola, in which nine of them have died. A top United Nations official warned this week that Ebola was winning the race as the WHO warned that within the next two months, West Africa could face up to 10,000 new Ebola cases per week if the outbreak is not contained.

Speaking at a news conference in Geneva, WHO assistant director-general Dr Bruce Aylward, disclosed that the death rate in the current outbreak had risen to 70 percent, from the previously estimated mortality rate of 50 percent. Acknowledging that Ebola was “a high mortality disease,” Dr Aylward noted that the UN health agency was still focused on getting six people into isolation and providing treatment to them as early as possible, adding that if the global response to the current Ebola outbreak is not stepped up in the coming sixty days, “a lot more people will die” and health workers will be stretched even further.

Experts in the field have indicated that the epidemic is doubling in size about every three weeks, with Dr Aylward indicating that over the last month, there have been about 1,000 new Ebola cases per week. This included confirmed, suspected and probable cases. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone continue to the be the hardest-hit countries in the current epidemic, with WHO officials particularly concerned about the spread of Ebola in their capital cities – Conakry, Monrovia and Freetown – where people move freely across borders. While some regions in these countries have seen the number of Ebola cases either stabilize or fall, this does not mean that the regions are Ebola-free. Neighbouring countries, including Guinea-Bissau, the Ivory Coast and Mali are currently at a high risk of importing the disease.

The WHO also announced Tuesday that Nigeria and Senegal could be declared Ebola-free in the coming days after completing a 42-day period with no new cases. A statement released on Tuesday revealed “if the active surveillance for new cases that is currently in place continues, and no new cases are detected, WHO will declare the end of the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Senegal on Friday 17 October.” If no new cases are reported in Nigeria, then the WHO will declare it Ebola-free on 20 October.

Senegal had one patient who was confirmed to have EVD. He has since recovered and it does not appear that anyone else was infected with the deadly disease. In Nigeria, one traveller from Liberia triggered an outbreak in which eight people died, most of them health workers.   The virus spread from the initial case in Lagos to Port Harcourt however it has since been contained with no new reported cases. The situation in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone however is far different as, according to the WHO, “new cases continue to explode in areas that looked like they were coming under control.” Adding “an unusual characteristic of this epidemic is a persistent cyclical pattern of gradual dips in the number of new cases, followed by sudden flare-ups.”

Officials at the WHO indicate that waiting for forty-two days from the time when the last person with high risk exposure has tested negative for the disease effectively provides sufficient confidence to declare that the outbreak is over. The 42-day period is twice the generally accepted maximum incubation period of the virus however some incubation periods are longer, with the WHO is indicating that in 95 percent of Ebola cases, the incubation period was between one and 21 days while in 98 percent, it was no longer than 42 days.

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Senegalese Peacekeeper Killed in Latest Attack in Mali

Posted on in Senegal title_rule

Days after nine Nigerien peacekeepers were killed in northern Mali, on Tuesday a Senegalese United Nations peacekeeper was killed when a joint French-UN military camp in the northern Malian town of Kidal was hit by rocket fire.

Olivier Salgado, spokesman for the UN force, which is known as MINUSMA, confirmed the attack, stating that between six and eight rockets had been fired at the camp.   Officials in Senegal later confirmed that the peacekeeper who was killed in the attack was a member of Senegal’s 845-strong contingent deployed in Mali as part of the UN’s peacekeeping mission.  Two other Senegalese peacekeepers were lightly injured.

While it remains unclear who is behind the latest attack, sources believe that Iyad Ag Ghaly, who led a Tuareg rebellion in the Sahara before forming Ansar Dine, may be the reason why Islamist insurgents operating in the region have recently increased their attacks on UN peacekeepers operating in Mali.  After disappearing in January 2013, shortly after French troops intervened in a bid to drive Islamist insurgents away from the capital Bamako, Iyad Ag Ghaly resurfaced last month, issuing a video message signalling a return to combat.  In the video, he indicated that his group was “ready to unite with our brothers on the ground to face up to the crusaders and infidels who have united to fight Islam in our land.”  Sources from UN’s MINUSMA force in Mali believe that his militant group is likely behind the recent attacks however the reduction of French troops, coupled with the absence of Malian troops from the region, has also likely contributed to the recent upsurge of militant activity.    UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous has also attributed the instability in southern Libya to the recent increase in attacks, stating that it is “a factor that plays a role in the fact that these jihadists…have restarted their activities.  They have without doubt re-acquired equipment.”

On Friday, nine UN soldiers, all from neighbouring Niger, were killed in the northeastern desert region when armed men on motorbikes targeted them.  That attack was claimed by a militant with links to Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO).  Friday’s attack brought the number of deaths in the UN mission since its deployment in July 2013 to thirty.  Three Senegalese peacekeepers have now died in northern Mali.

For a period of ten months in 2012, Islamist groups Ansar Dine, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and MUJAO occupied the northern desert region of Mali, a region that makes up nearly two thirds of the country, before they were ousted by a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.  While stability has generally been brought back to the region, militants have continued to carry out attacks, specifically targeting French troops.  UN troops are now trying to stabilize the northern region while peace talks between the Malian government and Tuaregs continue.

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Ebola Outbreaks in Senegal and Nigeria Contained

Posted on in Africa, Ebola, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, West Africa title_rule

While the deadliest Ebola epidemic ever has now killed 2,793 people in West Africa, World Health Organisation (WHO) officials disclosed Monday that outbreaks in Senegal and Nigeria have been basically contained.  A statement released by the UN health agency also published the results of the latest meeting of its Ebola emergency committee.

According to new figures released by the WHO, as of 18 September a total of 5,762 people have been infected with the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in five Western countries.  Guinea, where the outbreak initially began at the art of this year, along with neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone currently account for the most cases and continue to see their numbers rise.  Liberia has especially been the hardest hit, with 3,022 cases and 1,578 deaths.

The WHO did note however “the outbreaks in Senegal and Nigeria are pretty much contained.” According to officials, Senegal has not reported any new cases of the deadly virus since it registered its first and only case on August 29 – a Guinean student who has since recovered.  Meanwhile Nigeria, where twenty-one people have been infected, eight of whom have died, has not reported any new cases since September 8.  While no reports of new cases in Senegal and Nigeria does signify that both countries are slowly recovering, the WHO has not yet deemed them transmission free as the incubation period for Ebola is 21 days and double this time must pass without any new cases arising before a country can be deemed transmission free.

In a statement released Monday, the WHO also indicated that during a meeting of its Ebola emergency committee last week, officials had determined that the outbreak remains to be a “public health emergency of international concern.”  The WHO has disclosed that the committee reiterated its opposition to general bans on international travel or trade, noting that people infected with Ebola, or those who had come into contact with Ebola patients, should not be permitted to travel.  The committee also warned that blocking flights to or from affected areas and other travel restrictions only served to “isolate affected countries, resulting in detrimental economic consequences, and hinder relief and response efforts risking further international spread.”  The emergency committee did stress that in cases where measures like quarantines are deemed necessary, countries must ensure that “they are proportionate and evidence-based, and that accurate information, essential services and commodities, including food and water are provided to the affected populations,” insisting that “adequate security measures” should be put in place in order to ensure the safety and protection of heath workers, who face high infection rates and sometimes violence from frustrated and frightened populations.  Last week, eight members of an Ebola education team, said to include local health officials and journalists, were found dead after they were attacked by angry locals in southern.  This is the first such incident where health workers combatting EVD were killed.

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Ebola Death Toll Nears 2,000 Mark

Posted on in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, West Africa title_rule

According to new figures released Thursday by the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 1,900 people have died in West Africa’s Ebola outbreak. There have also been 3,500 confirmed or probable cases reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. WHO chief Margaret Chan warned Thursday “the outbreaks are racing ahead of the control efforts in these countries,” adding that at least US $600 million (£360 million) is needed in order to fight the virus. Ms Chan has described the current outbreak as “the largest and most severe and most complex we have ever seen.”

The latest statistics represent a significant increase from the 1,552 deaths and 3,069 cases that were reported by the Geneva-based organisation last week. According to the WHO, more than 40% of the deaths have occurred in the three weeks leading up to 3 September. This indicates that the epidemic is fast outpacing efforts to control it. According to Ms Chan, the WHO “…would like to reverse the trend in three months” in those countries where there is a “very tense transmission.” This includes Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In countries with “localized transmission,” such as Senegal, where so far only one case has been reported, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which now has reported 31 deaths, the WHO “would like to stop all transmission within eight weeks.”

The speed of the deadly virus has prompted WHO officials to meet on Thursday in order to examine the most promising treatments and to discuss how to fast-track testing and production. According to sources, disease control experts, medical researchers, officials from affected countries and specialists in medical ethics will be represented at the meeting, which will take place in Geneva.

The Ebola virus has continued to spread in Nigeria, despite WHO officials stating that they were hopeful it would remain under control. On Wednesday, Nigerian authorities reported two additional cases in the city of Port Harcourt. Until the Port Harcourt case was announced, Nigeria’s government had indicated that the virus was contained in Lagos. On Thursday, the WHO warned “the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Port Harcourt has the potential to grow larger and spread faster than the one in Lagos.” The UN health body has disclosed that the virus’ arrival in Port Harcourt, located 435 kilometres (270 miles) east of Lagos and home to oil and gas majors including Chevron, Shell and Total, showed “multiple high-risk opportunities for transmission of the virus to others.” Out of 255 people currently under surveillance for signs of the disease, 60 are considered to have had “high-risk or very high-risk exposure.

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