Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Ebola holds upper hand

27 August 2014, 06:59

Monrovia - The Ebola virus may have the "upper hand" in an outbreak that has killed more than 1 400 people in West Africa but experts can stop the virus' spread, a top American health official said at the start of his visit to the hardest-hit countries.

Dr Tom Frieden, director of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, was in Liberia on Tuesday, and later plans to stop in Sierra Leone and Guinea. Nigeria also has recorded cases, but officials there have expressed optimism that its spread can be controlled.

"Lots of hard work is happening, lots of good things are happening," Frieden told a meeting attended by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Monday. "But the virus still has the upper hand."

Also Read: Ebola threat delays start of school year

Even as Liberia resorts to stringent measures to try to halt the spread of Ebola, frustration mounted over the slow collection of dead bodies from neighbourhoods of Monrovia. One group of residents attached plastic ties to the wrists and ankles of one suspected Ebola victim and dragged his corpse to a busy street, according to an Associated Press journalist at the scene.

Authorities have decreed that all Ebola victims must be collected by government health workers and cremated, as contact with bodies can transmit the virus.

In Nigeria, two more Ebola patients were declared to have survived the disease and were released from hospital, said Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu on Tuesday. Five people have died from the disease in Nigeria, while a total of seven have recovered. One person remains in the hospital in an isolation ward, said Chukwu.

Also Read: UN warns of food crisis in Ebola-hit Sierra Leone

The current outbreak is the largest ever and experts have struggled to contain it for a host of reasons: doctors took a long time to identify it, it is happening in a region where people are highly mobile, it has spread to densely populated areas and many people have resisted or hid from treatment. The disease has overwhelmed already struggling health systems in some of the world's poorest countries.

But CDC director Frieden expressed optimism that the outbreak can be contained.

"Ebola doesn't spread by mysterious means, we know how it spreads," he said in his remarks, which were broadcast on Liberian TV. "So we have the means to stop it from spreading, but it requires tremendous attention to every detail."

Liberian officials already have sealed off an entire slum neighbourhood in the capital. Sirleaf also has declared a state of emergency, and ordered all her ministers and top government officials to remain in the country or return from any trips.

Shortage of gear

Late on Monday, her office said in a statement that any official who defied that order had been fired. The order was issued a few weeks ago and officials had been given a week to return. The statement did not say how many or who had been fired.

According to the latest World Health Organization tally, the Ebola outbreak has killed 1 427 people of the 2 615 sickened. The UN health agency says that 240 health care workers have been infected with Ebola, calling that an unprecedented number. Half of those infected have died.

The agency said that the high number of infections among health workers is due to a shortage of protective gear and its improper use and a shortage of staff to treat the tremendous influx of patients.

In the current outbreak as many as 90 000 protective suits will be needed every month, according to Jorge Castilla, an epidemiologist with the European Union Commission's Department for Humanitarian Aid. That estimate takes into account a recent increase in the number of beds available for treating Ebola patients and more stringent standards to protect health workers.

Also Read: British Ebola sufferer 'receiving experimental drug'

There has been a severe shortage of that equipment that is only now beginning to be resolved, he said. He did not say exactly how many suits were lacking.

The outbreak also desperately needs more workers to trace the people that the sick have come into contact with and more centres where patients can be screened for the disease in a safe way that contains any Ebola infections, said Castilla, who recently returned from a trip to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

A separate Ebola outbreak emerged over the weekend in Congo, though experts say it is not related to the West African epidemic. Doctors Without Borders, which is running many of the treatment centres in the West Africa outbreak, said it was also sending experts and supplies to Equateur, a northwestern province of Congo. But the medical charity has already warned that its resources already were stretched.

"In normal times, we're able to mobilize teams specializing in haemorrhagic fevers, but currently we are facing an enormous epidemic in West Africa, limiting our capacity to respond to the outbreak in Equateur province," said Jeroen Beijnberger, the group's medical co-ordinator in Congo.

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...