Saturday 14 December 2019

Liberia faces surge of victims as Ebola virus spreads

Liberian health workers carry the body of a man that they believe died from the Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia.
Liberian health workers carry the body of a man that they believe died from the Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia.

Oliver Duggan

Thousands of new cases of Ebola are expected in the coming weeks as the disease spreads "exponentially" through Liberia, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.

More than 2,000 people have been killed in West Africa by Ebola since the outbreak began this year, including 79 health workers.

The UN's health agency has now warned that the response to the crisis is "not having an adequate impact" and efforts to contain the virus must be stepped up "three-to-four fold".

It added that a shortage of beds for infected patients in Liberia's Montserrado county and the use of public transport by Ebola sufferers turned away from hospital would likely cause a surge in transmission rates.

"Transmission of the Ebola virus in Liberia is already intense and the number of new cases is increasing exponentially," WHO said in a statement.

"In Monrovia, taxis filled with entire families, of whom some members are thought to be infected with the Ebola virus, crisscross the city, searching for a treatment bed. There are none.

"As WHO staff in Liberia confirm, no free beds for Ebola treatment exist anywhere in the country.

"When patients are turned away, they have no choice but to return to their communities and homes, where they inevitably infect others."

The virus is transmitted through contact with infected blood or bodily fluids, or through contact with areas where contaminated bodily fluids have recently been left.

The international response to the epidemic has been intensified in recent weeks, with more aid being pledged to affected countries and the imposition of stricter travel restrictions.

The British military has pledged to build a 50-bed centre in Sierra Leone and the US announced the construction of a 25-bed field hospital in Liberia at a cost of €24m.

Liberia has been the worst affected with 1,000 deaths from the virus so far, while hundreds have also died in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The outbreak has a mortality rate of 55pc.

Meanwhile, the fourth American aid worker ill with the Ebola virus arrived yesterday morning to a mostly calm scene at a US hospital, where two others have been successfully treated.

The patient walked from the ambulance to the hospital.

About an hour earlier, the specially equipped plane carrying the patient touched down at an air base in Atlanta. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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