Thursday, September 25, 2014

WHO: Cities with international airports at risk of Ebola

The World Health Organisation, WHO has disclosed that any city with an international airport is at risk of an imported case of the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD. The global health body revealed this while making a review of the virus’ outbreak for the past six months in the six affected countries. 

The countries include: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo. “Theoretically, given the speed and volume of air travel, any city with an international airport is at risk of an imported case of Ebola” the world health body had said. 

But it however noted that globally, vigilance is exceptionally high as it investigates around 20 to 30 rumoured cases daily. All of such cases have however been negative and discarded. According to WHO, countries with well-developed health systems and services are less likely to be rattled should there be any onward transmission of the virus following an imported case. 

Giving a six-month situation assessment of the virus in the six affected African countries, WHO said Nigeria and Senegal are “stable for the moment”. Commending Nigeria, the world health body said: “after the country’s first case, imported by an air traveller to Lagos on 20 July, was confirmed, the ministry of health responded urgently, dramatically, appropriately and effectively”. WHO, however, warned that “no one can predict with certainty how the outbreaks in these two countries will evolve”. 

Sierra Leone on the other hand, according to WHO, needs more treatment beds in much safer facilities, better contact traicing and follow-up, more personal protective equipment and body bags, and more properly protected teams to collect bodies and bury them safely. 

The DRC, which is experiencing its seventh Ebola outbreak, is rated poorly by WHO. According to the health body, DRC’s number of cases and deaths is growing at a rate similar to that seen during other recent outbreaks of the virus in the country. “No predictions about its evolution or eventual control can be made at this point,” WHO said. 

Guinea, according to WHO, has a relentless spread of the virus. The world health body said Guinea’s “notoriously porous borders- from the large outbreaks in neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone” would impede an early eradication of the virus in the country. 

“This more realistic explanation strongly suggests that control in Guinea will not be feasible until the Ebola caseload in its neighbours goes down. “On current trends, the prospects that this will happen anytime in the near future are distinctly not good at all,” WHO said. 

So far, there have been 5, 843 cases of Ebola infections in all six affected countries with 2, 803 deaths. Between March 23 and September 22, 337 healthcare workers have been infected while over 181 of them have died. Five of these were in Nigeria.

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