As West Africa’s Ebola toll climbed by another 142 cases and 77 deaths today, the World Health Organization (WHO) conceded that the size of the epidemic has been underestimated and cited a list of reasons for that, from concealment and denial of cases to the closing of treatment centers and clinics.
Also today, the WHO’s Keiji Fukuda, MD, MPH, speaking at a press conference in Monrovia, Liberia, estimated it will take 6 to 9 months to bring the outbreak under control. He and a United Nations (UN) official promised to scale up WHO support for the Ebola-stricken countries.
Death toll tops 1,400
With the latest cases, reported on Aug 19 and 20, the WHO’s Ebola virus disease (EVD) count reached 2,615, including 1,427 deaths. The numbers include confirmed, probable, and suspected cases.
Liberia accounted for most of the increase, with 110 new cases and 48 deaths, for a total of 1,082 cases and 624 fatalities, the WHO reported. Guinea cited 28 cases and 10 deaths, raising its totals to 607 and 406, while 3 new cases and 18 deaths in Sierra Leone raised the country’s count to 910 cases and 392 deaths.
A report from Liberia’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare said today that EVD has hit 117 healthcare workers in the country, killing 63 of them.
The WHO report showed just one new case and one death in Nigeria, for a total there of 16 illnesses and 5 deaths.
Nigerian cases spark concern
Meanwhile, the media today reported two newly confirmed cases in Nigeria. A Reuters story said cases were confirmed in the spouses of a man and a woman who died of the disease after helping to care for the country’s first Ebola case-patient, Patrick Sawyer, who died of EVD after flying to Nigeria from Liberia in July.
The story called the two new cases “an alarming development,” because the patients are outside the group of caregivers who had direct contact with Sawyer. On Aug 19 the WHO said the 12 confirmed cases in Nigeria at that point all involved individuals who had contact with Sawyer.
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