UN: WHO official cautions Liberia on new Ebola cases

New York, US (PANA) - The UN World Health Organisation (WHO) Assistant Director-General for Polio and Emergencies, Dr. Bruce Aylward, on Saturday warned that the number of Ebola  cases in Liberia, which has recently shown some signs of decline, "is starting to pick up again, most likely because people are relaxing their guard".

"We are seeing taxis full of people again in the streets, and packed. We are seeing people not washing their hands again. We are seeing, most worryingly, that not every single case is being reported," Dr. Ayward said in a statement.

He said the most recent WHO statistics on Ebola cases in Liberia showed that the number of cases in the country had "not continued to decline, the case numbers have flattened out now and in some areas, they are starting to go up a bit".

"It went down and now it is going back up in some places because people are relaxing their guard," he said, urging Liberians to renew their offensive against the virus to stop transmission.

"Don’t give the virus the chance to hide anywhere in this country. Now you need to hunt the virus. If you don’t do that, it will come back very fast," Dr. Aylward stressed.

Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has drawn attention to increasing concerns about cases of the abandonment of orphans and unaccompanied children suspected to be infected by Ebola, as sometimes their families were afraid to touch the children in case they had the virus.

Mr. Roeland Monasch, UNICEF Representative in Sierra Leone, said that, as of today there had been 4,744 cases in Sierra Leone, with over 1,000 of them being children and to avoid Ebola spreading into surrounding districts, UNICEF had introduced Community Care Centres and was strongly focusing on community engagement.

He also said that, UNICEF was seeking to mobilize adult survivors of Ebola to care for those children, as they had a very low risk of catching Ebola again.

Mr. Monasch said that UNICEF was very happy to report that knowledge and awareness were exceptionally high in Sierra Leone – 90 per cent of the 2,000 respondents reported the three main ways of preventing Ebola infection correctly.

"However, misconceptions, although reduced, remained. For example 36 per cent of the population still believed that bathing in salt water prevented Ebola and only 64 per cent in the community accepted alternative safe burials without the washing or touching of dead bodies," UNICEF noted.

He also announced that 10 new Ebola Community Care Centres were due to open this week in Sierra Leone’s Bombali district as part of a new drive to bring care closer to communities, saying that, the tented centres built by UNICEF would boost the number of beds in Bombali, one of the districts worst hit by the current Ebola outbreak.

"These 8-bed centres will allow those with the Ebola virus to be isolated within their communities, in a place where they can get basic care, free medicine, safe water and sanitation, and food supplies," he added.
-0- PANA AA/MA 15Nov2014

15 november 2014 17:43:57

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