Liberia’s ebola cases are falling, says WHO

Liberia may be seeing a decline in the spread of ebola, with falls in the number of burials and new admissions as well as a plateau in laboratory-confirmed cases, the World Health Organisation said yesterday.

“Do we feel confident that the response is now getting an upper hand on the virus? Yes, we are seeing slowing rate of new cases, very definitely,” WHO assistant director general Bruce Aylward told a news conference.

“We need to be careful here. This thing hasn’t dropped off the cliff like that. We’re seeing a reversal of that rapid rate of increase to the point that there seems to be a decline right now.”

He said there had been 13,703 cases in eight countries and the reported death toll, to be published later today, was likely to be over 5,000. A jump of more than 3,000 in the number of cases since Saturday was largely due to the data being updated with old cases rather than new cases, he said.

Aylward said he would be terrified if wrong conclusions were read into his statement and ebola was thought to be under control. But he said if trends continued, the worst-hit countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone should be able to “comfortably” meet a target to scale up ebola- containment measures by December 1. Last week Mali became the sixth west African country to report a case of the disease.

The WHO has been rushing to help organise bed spaces to take care of ebola patients in treatment centres, but there were now around 100 beds empty in Liberia, he said.

In Sierra Leone the number of cases was rising.

A group of 40 European political, diplomatic and military figures called yesterday for the NATO military alliance to deploy staff, ships and aircraft to help fight ebola in west Africa.

Quarantine

nThe US state of Maine is working with health officials to seek legal authority to enforce the quarantine of a nurse who treated ebola patients in Africa.

State governor Paul LePage said police were monitoring the home in Fort Kent where nurse Kaci Hickox is under voluntary quarantine.

Ms Hickox told US television shows she has so far abided by the state’s voluntary quarantine.

But she says she does not plan to co-operate after today — and is prepared to go to court if the state tries to quarantine her.


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