NGO Warns That Sierra Leone and Liberia at Risk for New Deadly EpidemicAugust 23, 2016 in Liberia, Sierra Leone
An NGO warned this month that Sierra Leone and Liberia are at risk for a new deadly epidemic akin to the impact of the Ebola virus because of a lack of clean water and hygienic conditions in most homes.
WaterAid has reported that the two provisions were the “first line of defense” against infectious diseases, noting however they needed to be put in place before outbreaks began. In a statement, the British-based group disclosed that in Liberia, 24.5 percent of people do not have access to clean water. In Sierra Leone, this figure stands at more than 37 percent. WaterAid further added that when it comes to basic sanitation, the figures are even higher, with just over 83 percent in Liberia living without access to it and 86.7 percent of people in Sierra Leone. In the statement WaterAid’s Joe Lambongang disclosed that “the terrible suffering of the people of Sierra Leone and Liberia during the Ebola crisis is at high risk of being repeated in another disease epidemic if we do not see action to improve water, sanitation and hygiene practices in our communities, schools and healthcare facilities. It further indicated that “these basic provisions are the first line of defense against infectious diseases including Ebola,” adding, “to ask healthcare professionals to battle an epidemic without clean water, safe toilets and somewhere to wash their hands is unrealistic and needlessly puts lives at risk.” In June, Liberia confirmed that it was free of Ebola, effectively meaning that there were no known cases in West Africa of the tropical virus, which left more than 11,300 people dead in the region since late 2013. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared an end on 1 June to Ebola cases in Guinea, where it first broke out in December 2013, and in Sierra Leone on 17 March. According to Sierra Leone’s health ministry figures, 30 percent of the population dies every year of diseases that are passed on by contaminated water.
Liberia Outbreak Declared OverJune 15, 2016 in Ebola
On 9 June, the latest Ebola outbreak in Liberia, the last country still affected by the deadliest flare-up in history, was declared over.
Liberia effectively passed the World Health Organization (WHO) threshold of 42 days – twice the incubation period for the virus, since the last known patient tested negative for the second time. Last week, the WHO declared an end to the latest Ebola outbreak in Guinea, however it warned that a recurrence of the virus remained a threat as previous declarations announcing the end of Ebola flare-ups in West Africa have been followed by the emergence of new cases. While in late March, the WHO declared that the Ebola outbreak no longer constituted an international emergency, new cases emerged in Liberia just two days later.
The Ebola epidemic began in Guinea in December 2013 and killed more than 11,300 people. It devastated economies and health systems in the worst affected countries in West Africa and tested the world’s capacity to respond to a global health emergency. At its peak in 2014, the Ebola outbreak sparked anxiety about a possible global pandemic and led some governments to threaten or unilaterally enforce travel bans to and from the worst-affected countries. In all, the virus affected ten countries, including the United States and Spain, with more than 28,000 cases reported – virtually all in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The WHO has drawn criticism for its delayed response to the Ebola crisis and its failure to identify the outbreak.
Guinea Again Declared Free of Ebola TransmissionJune 2, 2016 in Ebola, Guinea
On Wednesday 1 June, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that Guinea has reached the end of active Ebola virus transmission, in what is the second such declaration from the country at the epicenter of the world’s worst outbreak of the disease.
The proclamation was made because the person with Guinea’s last confirmed case tested negative for the second time more than 42 days ago. Guinea will now effectively enter a 90-day period of heightened surveillance in order to make sure of the identification of any new cases before they spread to others.
During the most recent outbreak, seven confirmed and three possible cases of the virus surfaced between 17 March and 6 April. At lest five people died. Another three cases were recorded in neighboring Liberia in a woman who had travelled from Guinea along with her two children. The WHO has disclosed that the flare-up seems to have occurred after a person came into contact with infected body fluid from an Ebola survivor. Since the virus remains active in certain body fluids for months, the WHO cautions that the risk of outbreaks remain, however on Tuesday, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier disclosed that the organization is confident that affected countries are prepared and can deal with flare-ups efficiently.
Guinea is believed to be where the world’s worst Ebola outbreak occurred. The outbreak initially emerged in December 2014 and would later spread to two other neighboring countries – Liberia and Sierra Leone. Guinea first declared itself free of transmission in December 2015.
Liberia Discharges Last Known Ebola PatientsMay 12, 2016 in Liberia
On 4 May, the ministry of health reported that Liberia’s last two known Ebola patients have been discharged from hospital after recovering from the deadly disease.
According to the ministry’s press spokesman, Sorbor George, the two were discharged from the Ebola Treatment Unit in the capital city Monrovia on Friday. He disclosed that “the two have been responding to the treatment and recovered from the virus last week. But thorough check-ups had to be done, and fortunately all proved them free of the virus,” adding, “this means that Liberia is again going through” the countdown “to be declared free of Ebola.”
The deadliest period in the history of the feared tropical virus wrecked the economies and health systems of the worst-hit West African nations – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – after it emerged in December 2013. Liberia was the country that was the worst-hit by the outbreak, which has claimed 11,300 lives. The World Health Organization (WHO) has disclosed that Ebola no longer constitutes an international emergency, however the announcement of new cases in West Africa in the past few months demonstrates the difficult of managing its aftermath.
Liberia Records New Ebola Death and Second CaseApril 14, 2016 in Ebola, Liberia
Health officials reported on Friday, 1 April that a woman has died of Ebola in Liberia, months after the West African country was declared free of the deadly disease. The announcement also comes weeks after neighbouring Guinea also recorded a new flare-up. Just days later, on 3 April, officials confirmed that the woman’s five-year-old son has tested positive for Ebola.
According to a senior health ministry official, “a young lady in her early thirties died of Ebola yesterday at the Redemption Hospital,” adding that the government was preparing to release a statement on the new case. A hospital worker also confirmed that the woman had tested positive for the disease and died on Thursday, 31 March. Authorities are now checking everyone the woman was in contact with and ten health care workers from the hospital where the woman died are currently under observation. A source has disclosed that there are strong indications that the woman came from Guinea where they border was closed, adding that the woman had travelled with three of her children.
The new cases are a setback for Liberia, which had been declared free from transmission for a third time on 14 January. The region also continues to see a number of small flare-ups even after countries have received the all-clear. Liberia was first declared free of the disease in May 2015, however new cases emerged twice, effectively forcing officials to rese the clock in a nation where more than 4,800 people have died from the deadly virus. Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that Ebola was no longer an international health emergency, warning however that flare-ups, at decreasing frequency, were expected. Last month Guinea documented a series of new infections, highlighting the difficulty in stamping out the lingering epidemic. There are currently no known cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone, however in early April, the authorities announced that they have increased security measures along with screenings and surveillance points at all border crossings with Guinea.
More than 11,300 people died over the past two years in the world’s worst Ebola epidemic on record, with nearly all of them dying in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.