UN: UN Ebola response chief says disease 'still very much a crisis'

New York, US (PANA) - The Head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER),
Mr. Anthony Banbury said that while there are now "basically zero" cases in Gueckedou, Guinea, where the unprecedented outbreak of Ebola in West Africa is believed to have started, the challenge will be to replicate the strategy to defeat the disease throughout the country and the wider region.

A UN statement obtained by PANA in New York on Sunday said Mr. Banbury made the remarks
on his third trip to Guinea, in which he visited Gueckedou, an area in the southern part of the
country, close to the Sierra Leone and Liberia borders.

The statement quoted the UN envoy as saying: "The first case of Ebola, in December 2013, was
just down the road from here, so I was very interested and coming and seeing the situation on
the ground for myself.

"Happily, the number of cases in Gueckedou has gone down a lot, the
transmissions are declining and the number of cases in the town is almost basically zero,
while there are still cases outside the town, there has been good progress made over these past months."

He noted that the strategy in halting the spread of the virus in the area was sound, and all the
elements of the proper response plan were in place, explaining that in Gueckedou, there is an
Ebola treatment unit, there are safe burials, there is contact identification and tracing, as well
as community mobilization – "and we see the results of it."

This was reminiscent of what UNMEER had seen in Foya in neighbouring Liberia, where all
those elements were in place, and what had been an area with very high infection rates –
and significantly accelerated infection rates – now was seeing significantly decreasing
infection rates.

"So we know the strategy we have works – the challenge now to is to spread it everywhere
the disease is," Mr. Banbury said, noting however that there are other places close to
Gueckedou where the situation was quite different and the virus was still spreading.

The UN envoy also held a meeting with Gueckedou's prefect, mayor,
other local officials, partners and representatives of non-governmental organizations.

At the meeting, Mr. Banbury said that, while the prefect was very pleased with the progress
that had been achieved in reducing the number of cases, he emphasized that the Ebola
outbreak is impacting every segment of society, every facet of life.

"People were not going to the market anymore, people were afraid to come
from outside of Gueckedou to sell at the market because they thought that Gueckedou
was a centre of Ebola. So clearly the disease has had a dramatic impact on society here," he observed.

Commenting on his meeting with Guinea's President Alpha Conde, Mr. Banbury said he
had been pleased to learn of the adoption by the government of a national plan to defeat
Ebola in the country.

The envoy said the strategy was very much based on the plan that came out of the
planning conference held two weeks ago in Accra, Ghana, with key UN officials and
leaders of the most-affected countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

According to UN World Health Organization (WHO) statistics on the Ebola outbreak,
13,567 cases and 4,951 deaths have been reported in the six affected countries of Guinea,
Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Spain, and the US, along with two previously affected
countries, Nigeria and Senegal.
-0-   PANA   AA/AR  2Nov2014

02 november 2014 18:23:29

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