WHO Warns Ebola Cases Could Spike Dramatically in West Africa
Demanding a stepped-up global response to the Ebola crisis, especially in the hardest hit areas of West Africa, the World Health Organization warned on Tuesday that if efforts to combat the deadly virus are not improved there could be as many as 10,000 new cases per week within two months.
WHO assistant director-general Dr. Bruce Aylward explained at a media briefing on Tuesday that if significant changes are not made within 60 days, “a lot more people will die” and that the real need is for trained people to be “on the ground” in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea where the number of cases continues to spiral.
Aylward was specific to explain that the key in the approach was not to isolate those that have come in contact with the virus or become infected. Instead, he said, aggressive containment, prevention teachniques, and high-quality treatment of those exposed will be essential. “It would be horrifically unethical to say that we’re just going to isolate people,” he said, noting that new strategies like handing out protective equipment to families and setting up very basic clinics was a priority for the WHO.
According to AP:
Aylward said for the last four weeks, there have been about 1,000 new cases per week, though that figure includes suspected, confirmed and probable cases. He said WHO is aiming to have 70 percent of cases isolated within two months to reverse the outbreak.
WHO increased its Ebola death toll tally to 4,447, nearly all of them in West Africa, and the group said the number of probable and suspected cases was 8,914.
Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have been hardest hit. Aylward said WHO was very concerned about the continued spread of Ebola in the three countries’ capital cities —Freetown, Conakry and Monrovia. He noted that while certain areas were seeing cases decline, “that doesn’t mean they will get to zero.”
He said the agency was still focused on trying to treat Ebola patients, despite the huge demands on the broken health systems in West Africa.
Also on Tuesday, the WHO said the mortality rate from Ebola is now estimated at seventy percent. That is up from a fifty percent rate previously used by the agency.
This article originally appeared on Common Dreams.
Read our “6 Key Facts About Ebola” article.