News / Health

To Halt Ebola, W. Africa Takes Dramatic Measures

FILE - Medical staff working with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) bring food to patients isolated at a treatment center in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, July 20, 2014.
FILE - Medical staff working with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) bring food to patients isolated at a treatment center in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, July 20, 2014.
Anne Look

Sierra Leone and Liberia are implementing dramatic new measures to try to contain a regional Ebola outbreak that has already killed hundreds.

The president of Sierra Leone has declared a national emergency and quarantined affected regions. Liberia is considering doing the same. 

CDC map of east Africa, areas with confirmed and probable cases of EbolaCDC map of east Africa, areas with confirmed and probable cases of Ebola
x
CDC map of east Africa, areas with confirmed and probable cases of Ebola
CDC map of east Africa, areas with confirmed and probable cases of Ebola

Since March, Ebola has killed at leat 729 in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, including more than 50 new fatalities reported since last Friday, the World Health Organization reported. The WHO says the total number of cases in West Africa stands at 1,323.

Guinea has the largest number of Ebola-related deaths at 339, followed by Sierra Leone at 233 and Liberia at 156. The overall toll includes a man with U.S. and Liberian citizenship who died in Nigeria last week. Another man with U.S. and Liberian citizenship died in Nigeria last week soon after arriving on a flight that made stops in Ghana and Togo.

The WHO says Nigerian authorities have identified 59 people who may have come into contact with that man before he died.

This is the worst outbreak of Ebola since the disease was discovered in 1976, but the strategy for fighting it is the same: containment. That means isolating the sick and monitoring those who have had contact with anyone ill.

Containing threat

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced new measures to combat what she said is the rapid spread of the disease in her country. She ordered all schools closed, without exception, and said quarantines were being considered for several communities.

"When these measures are instituted," she said, "only health care workers will be permitted to move in and out of those areas."

Sirleaf put all non-essential government employees on a 30-day mandatory leave and restricted travel for government officials.

In Sierra Leone, President Ernest Bai Koroma said he is quarantining areas where the disease is found, restricting public meetings and deploying security forces to quarantine the “epicenters” of the disease in the country's east.  Police will enforce the screening of everyone going in or out, he said, and trained volunteers will track down people who have been exposed. 

The measures will be in place for 60 to 90 days, Koroma said.

"Ebola is real," Koroma insisted in an address to the nation. "Ebola kills.”

 

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Guinea has the largest number of Ebola-related deaths at 339, followed by Sierra Leone at 233 and Liberia at 156.  Another man with U.S. and Liberian citizenship died in Nigeria last week soon after arriving on a flight that made stops in Ghana and Togo.

The WHO says Nigerian authorities have identified 59 people who may have come into contact with the man before he died.

Fear, superstition bring challenges

Health workers have met resistance from communities in Sierra Leone and the two other affected countries. 

Fear, mistrust and superstition have made it difficult, and sometimes dangerous, for health workers.  Meanwhile, the disease has spread to new communities.

Liberia and Sierra Leone have ordered police to protect health workers and facilities following attacks and incidents of sick people being forcibly removed from clinics. 

In both countries, it is already against the law to harbor someone suspected of having Ebola.

Koroma announced he will go to Guinea Friday to meet with his Guinean and Liberian counterparts. He also canceled a trip next week to Washington, where President Barack Obama is hosting a summit of African leaders.

Peace Corps responds

Meanwhile, two U.S. Peace Corps volunteers in Liberia have been isolated after potential exposure to Ebola. A spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday the two “had contact with an individual who later died of the Ebola virus."

The organization is temporarily removing all of its volunteers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea as a precautionary measure.

Doctors Without Borders is among the medical groups trying to fight the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone. The group's Anja Wolz said it lacks the staffing to fully address "a difficult situation."

"We only have the possibility to work in the case management centers and we don't have the capacity to go outside," Wolz said. "I would say, we are on the top of an iceberg in the moment because the contact tracing is not really functioning. ... To find the patient as soon as possible and to refer them to the case management center, it's the basic for an Ebola outbreak."

Flights dropped

Two of the main airlines servicing the region, Asky and Arik, have canceled flights in and out of Freetown and Monrovia after an infected Liberian man traveled by plane to Lagos last week and died there of the disease.

That incident put the international community on high alert, but the World Health Organization says the risk to travelers is low.

There is no vaccine or cure for Ebola, which can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases.  The disease is characterized by fever, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, and unstoppable bleeding from areas such as the eyes, ears and nose.

The Ebola virus is transmitted through contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person.  Health officials are warning people to not touch Ebola patients and to avoid burial rituals that require handling the body of an Ebola fatality.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid