UN: WHO says Ebola transmission still persists in western Sierra Leone

New York, US (PANA) - The number of Ebola cases is fluctuating in Guinea, decreasing in Liberia, but still showing signs of transmission in some parts of Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Wednesday.

WHO, in its latest update, obtained by PANA in New York, noted that, "in the west of Sierra Leone, it is still experiencing the most intense transmission of all affected countries".

It, however, reported that the so-called "Western Area Surge", an operation by the Government of Sierra Leone, WHO and UN partners, was intensifying efforts to curb the disease in the western parts of the country, particularly Freetown and neighbouring areas, to break chains of transmission, identify cases for early isolation and treatment, and conduct safe burials.

It stated that, to date, Ebola had affected more than 20,000 people with over 7,800 deaths, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

"Interventions in the three countries continue to progress in line with the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response's aim to conduct 100 per cent of burials safely and with dignity, and to isolate and treat 100 per cent of EVD (Ebola Virus Disease) cases by 1 January, 2015," according to WHO.

It disclosed that, a total of 678 health-care workers were known to have been infected with Ebola up to the end of 28 December 2014, and 382 of whom had died.

The total case count includes 2 healthcare workers in Mali, 11 in Nigeria, 1 infected in Spain  while treating an Ebola-positive patient, 1 in the United Kingdom who became infected in
Sierra Leone, and 3 in the US, including 1 infected in Guinea, and 2 others infected during the care of a patient in Texas, US.

Meanwhile, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) said it is helping the Liberian government build border posts to cut the cross-border spread of infection in West Africa.

"Infections in Liberia’s eastern border region have spiked recently as tight-knit cross-border communities spread the disease across the often porous border," UNDP said in a press release, adding that 49 new Ebola cases had been recorded in the border county of Grand Cape Mount in December, including 12 in the past four days.

UNDP Director for Liberia, UNDP Director for Liberia, Mr. Kamil Kamaluddeen, was quoted as saying that the official border crossings from Sierra Leone into Grand Cape Mount were all patrolled, however, there were a number of places where it was possible to cross without detection.

He said motorbikes, tents, communications equipment and personal protective equipment would also be provided for eight border crossings in remote areas bordering Sierra Leone, which would allow immigration as well as health workers to operate at the border.

In another development, the outgoing head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Anthony Banbury, has acknowledged the difficulty in getting response workers to some of the remote areas.

Mr. Banbury’s tour of duty ends on 3 January, 2015 and he will be succeeded by Mr. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed of Mauritania.

The UN official said in support of the Western Area Surge, USAID airlifted two urgently needed ambulances from Monrovia to Freetown, and the World Food Programme (WFP) had taken a series of measures to strengthen the capacities of its forward logistics bases.

He also reported that the logistics commission of the National Ebola Response Cell of Guinea has said it needed more than 4,300 thermometers, including the thermo-flash, no-contact variety for medical facilities country-wide, as well as some 5.6 million pairs of surgical gloves for all health facilities.

In Guinea, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) handed over 10 ambulances to national authorities for the fight against Ebola, and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) more than US$1 million worth of materials, including kits for Ebola survivors and pregnant women, as well as hand washing kits for maternity and youth centres.

The donation also included 222 bikes and 36 motorcycles to facilitate contact tracing in affected communities.
-0- PANA AA/MA 31Dec2014

31 december 2014 22:06:56

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