Switzerland: WHO warns of flare-ups of 'stubborn' Ebola virus

Geneva, Switzerland (PANA) - The Director-General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Margaret Chan, has noted that despite the three countries worst affected by the Ebola Virus interrupting all chains of transmission from the original outbreak that began more than two years ago, the virus is stubborn and further flare-ups would occur.

However, these would be be quickly contained, she said in a report to the Executive Board at its 138th Session of the WHO in Geneva on Monday.

Dr Chan said 15 months ago, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone were together reporting more than 950 cases of Ebola every week. "Today, the three countries have interrupted all chains of transmission from the original outbreak that began more than two years ago...This is a monumental achievement that needs to be acknowledged."

She commended the leadership of the three governments, the heroic sacrifices of health care workers and communities, and the unwavering support from a host of partners.

"However, WHO has not yet declared the outbreak in West Africa over. As we now know, the virus can hide in the bodies of fully recovered survivors for as long as a year," Dr Chan warned.

Since March of last year, WHO has documented 11 small flare-ups of infection following reintroduction of the virus from survivors. All were rapidly detected and quickly contained.

On 14 January, WHO declared that the outbreak in Liberia, the last country reporting cases, was over, but warned that the risk of further flare-ups would persist.

"The warning was well-founded. The next day, Sierra Leone confirmed its first new case since September of last year," Dr Chan said.

She noted that these countries promptly report new cases and vigilance is intense.

"...these countries have the world’s largest pool of expertise in responding to Ebola. They know exactly what to do...I still have more than 1000 staff in West Africa to assist in detecting and responding to flare-ups like this one. I thank them for their skill and dedication," Dr Chan said.

The WHO Director-General said thanks to a WHO-led clinical trial, we have a vaccine that can be used to confer a back-up ring of protection.

DR Chan said Ebola virus outbreak lingers in another sense as well over 10,000 survivors face persistent health problems together with continuing stigmatization, adding "they need care".

She said: "Ebola delivered an extremely severe and shattering blow to societies and economies. Recovery will take some time.

"While the job is by no means finished, no one anticipates that the situation will return to what we were seeing 15 months ago.

"The determination is fierce. International solidarity has been extraordinary. The many steps taken at national and international levels have had a decisive impact.

"No one will let this virus take off and run away again."
-0- PANA MA 26Jan2016

26 january 2016 11:39:11

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