UN: WHO, UN official alert on rainy season hampering Ebola response in West Africa

New York, US (PANA) - The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported an increase in the intensity and geographic area of Ebola transmission in Guinea and Sierra Leone, warning that the onset of the rainy season will make field operations more difficult.

The latest update on Ebola, obtained by PANA in New York on Thursday, stated that since 10 May, when a 10-month low of nine cases of Ebola were reported, both the intensity and geographical areas of transmission have increased.

It said that, in the week ending 31 May, 25 cases were reported from four prefectures of Guinea and three districts of Sierra Leone, and several cases in both countries arose from unknown sources of infection in areas that have not reported confirmed cases for several weeks, indicating that chains of transmission continue to go undetected.

According to WHO: "Rigorous contact tracing, active case finding, and infection prevention and control must be maintained at current intensive levels in order to uncover and break every chain of transmission."

WHO also reported that response efforts have been complicated by active and passive resistance from communities in Guinea and also Sierra Leone.

It stated: "Community engagement has continued to be challenging in several chiefdoms in Kambia, Sierra Leone, with UNICEF reporting a large number of incidents of resistance to response measures in the district."

"Also, community engagement has proved challenging in all 4 affected prefectures of Guinea, with several reported incidents of violence directed at field staff during the past week," it added.

WHO said: "Given the proximity to Guinea-Bissau of the recent cluster of cases in the north-west Guinean prefecture of Boke, two response teams from Guinea-Bissau have been deployed to the border with Guinea to assess several points of entry and sensitize the communities."

As of 31 May, there have been 27,181 Ebola cases, mostly in West Africa, with 11,162 deaths.

Meanwhile, Peter Graaff, the Acting UN Special Representative and head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), also on Thursday said that, "the rainy season is creating problems because it will bring other diseases like malaria that often shows similar symptoms to Ebola."

Mr. Graaff, in a brief statement, said the rainy season "makes things more complicated because for the time being, people showing those symptoms have to be dealt with as if they are potentially Ebola patients, therefore have to be tested."

As a consequence, he warned that the number of people to be tested for Ebola will go up "quite dramatically" over the next few weeks.

He also called for more international support to help in bringing the challenges of containing the recent Ebola transmission cases under effective control.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 4June2015

04 june 2015 08:36:32

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