Ebola advances in West Africa


ZIMBABWE-HEALTH-EBOLAThe Ebola virus disease continues its relentless expansion through West Africa, the region where it first emerged, despite the resources deployed by other countries and new health protocols aimed at preventing the contagion from spreading.

In Liberia and Sierra Leone, the two worst-affected countries, Ebola has taken root in the respective capitals, Monrovia and Freetown.

With more than 2,200 dead and nearly 4,000 cases, Liberia has already become the global epicentre of Ebola and the the virus has only just begun to spread among health workers, according to authorities.

Sierra Leone, where around 880 people have died, saw a steep rise in the number of cases after a three-day, round the clock curfew. Last week, it registered a tragic peak in the number of deaths – 121 – recorded on a single day.

Both countries this week received British and American military aid to try and contain the spread of Ebola, which has already claimed nearly 4,000 lives and may still not have revealed its true dimensions.

In Guinea, the chaos unleashed by Ebola “permeates every aspect of people’s lives,” warned the Director of Policy at the UN Development Programme, Magdy Martinez-Soliman.

Guinea’s economy had begun to grow after prolonged political instability, but the trend turned negative again with the spread of the virus.

Doctors Without Borders warned that their shelters in Conakry, Guinea’s capital, might not be able to receive more patients as a result of a sudden increase in cases in recent days.

Spanish doctor, Jose Maria Echevarria, who struggles every day against Ebola in Sierra Leone, told Spanish news agency Efe that although the epidemic was “totally out of control,” he believed the only way to halt its spread was by sticking to the protocols.

“We must put everything into place, things will work if they are done right,” he explained in a telephone interview.

He said there were flaws in the implementation of protocols for the care of patients infected by the virus in Spain, which recently recorded the first case of infection in Europe.

The patient, nurse’s aide Teresa Romero, remains in serious condition and the country’s health ministry has announced that protocols for health care personnel in direct contact with infected patients were to be revised, since all were considered at risk.

Brazilian health authorities moved to Rio de Janeiro Friday a Guinean patient, who is considered the first suspected case of Ebola in Brazil.

Although there have been no other Ebola cases recorded in Latin America, the death Wednesday of a Liberian man in the US has led to a redoubling in efforts aimed at halting the spread of the virus.

Australia, meanwhile, has ruled out that a nurse hospitalised Friday was infected with the virus, even though she suffered symptoms after working in Sierra Leone, officials said.

Ebola was discovered in 1976, but the current outbreak is by far the most serious.

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