A full understanding of the outbreak that will lead to improved response requires detailed analysis of exactly where transmission is occurring (by district level) and of time trends. This analysis is ongoing. Preliminary results show that cases are still concentrated (62% of all reported cases since the beginning of the outbreak) in the epicentre of the outbreak in Gueckedou (Guinea); Lofa (Liberia), where cases continue to rise; and Kenema and Kailahun (Sierra Leone). Capital cities are of particular concern, owing to their population density and repercussions for travel and trade.
WHO and its partners are on the ground establishing Ebola treatment centres and strengthening capacity for laboratory testing, contact tracing, social mobilization, safe burials, and non-Ebola health care.
Excellencies, honourable ministers, distinguished participants, colleagues in the United Nations system, ladies and gentlemen,
It is good to see so many ministers here. Let me warmly welcome you to this conference on health and climate. Thank you for giving us your expertise and your time. You have an important job to do.
Previously unrecognized health benefits could be realized from fast action to reduce climate change and its consequences. For example, changes in energy and transport policies could save millions of lives annually from diseases caused by high levels of air pollution. The right energy and transport policies could also reduce the burden of disease associated with physical inactivity and traffic injury.
Measures to adapt to climate change could also save lives around the world by ensuring that communities are better prepared to deal with the impact of heat, extreme weather, infectious disease and food insecurity.
On 26 August 2014, the Ministry of Health, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) notified the World Health Organization (WHO) of an outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Equateur Province.
The index case was a pregnant woman from Ikanamongo Village who butchered a bush animal that had been killed and given to her by her husband. She became ill with symptoms of EVD and reported to a private clinic in Isaka Village. On 11 August 2014, she died of a then-unidentified haemorrhagic fever. Local customs and rituals associated with death meant that several health-care workers were exposed and presented with similar symptoms in the following week.
The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in west Africa is unprecedented in many ways, including the high proportion of doctors, nurses, and other health care workers who have been infected.
To date, more than 240 health care workers have developed the disease in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, and more than 120 have died.
WHO is working to ensure an international health worker who is deployed for the Organization in Sierra Leone and has contracted Ebola receives the best care possible including the option of medical evacuation to another care facility if necessary.
The magnitude of the Ebola outbreak, especially in Liberia and Sierra Leone, has been underestimated for a number of reasons.
Many families hide infected loved ones in their homes. As Ebola has no cure, some believe infected loved ones will be more comfortable dying at home.
Between 19 and 20 August 2014, a total of 142 new cases of Ebola virus disease (laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) as well as 77 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.
Questions have been received in WHO Headquarters about the original proposed budget for the response and the new draft budget, which is being reviewed by partners. The increase in needed resources is based on improved data and understanding of the situation on the ground in the affected countries. The new estimation of costs is derived using a unit-cost model, built for the most intense transmission areas and reflects the average operational costs based on the current situation in the affected countries. The major assumptions for the cost estimates will be announced towards the end of next week.
Clinicians working in Liberia have informed WHO that 2 doctors and 1 nurse have now received the experimental Ebola therapy, ZMapp.
The nurse and one of the doctors show a marked improvement. The condition of the second doctor is serious but has improved somewhat.
Between 17 and 18 August 2014, a total of 221 new cases of Ebola virus disease (laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) as well as 106 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.
WHO continues to engage in high-level communication efforts with affected countries, companies and organizations doing business in and from Africa, and national and global leaders. Currently, some companies have taken the decision to suspend services to the affected countries. This includes airlines and shipping companies. As a result of these decisions, countries are beginning to experience supply shortages, including fuel, food, and basic supplies. WHO is working with the UN World Food Programme to ensure adequate food and supplies, but calls on companies to make business decisions based on scientific evidence with regard to the transmission of Ebola virus.
Between 14 and 16 August 2014, a total of 113 new cases of Ebola virus disease (laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) as well as 84 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia*, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.
The response of WHO and other partners to the Ebola Virus outbreak is continuing to grow in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. To reduce the likelihood that those who are infected will carry the disease outside their communities, the governments have set up quarantine zones in areas of high transmission including severely-affected cities such as Gueckedou in Guinea, Kenema and Kailahun in Sierra Leone and Foya in Liberia.
The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in west Africa continues to evolve, with cases confirmed in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. At present, no cases have been confirmed anywhere else in the world outside these 4 countries.
The situation in Lagos, Nigeria, where the first imported case was detected in July, looks reassuring. At present, the city’s 12 confirmed cases are all part of a single chain of transmission. Those infected by the initial case include medical staff involved in his treatment, a patient in the same hospital, and a protocol officer in very close contact with the patient.
The current Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak is believed to have begun in Guinea in December 2013. This outbreak now involves community transmission in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and recently an ill traveller from Liberia infected a small number of people in Nigeria with whom he had direct contact.
On 8 August 2014, WHO declared the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in accordance with the International Health Regulations (2005).
As major emergencies around the globe increase in scale, complexity and frequency, WHO is calling for an end to the targeting of health workers in conflicts and other humanitarian crises, which represent a breach of the fundamental right to health.
On tomorrow’s World Humanitarian Day, celebrated every 19 August, WHO will draw attention to the continued trend of attacks on health-care workers, hospitals, clinics and ambulances in Syria, Gaza, Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan and other areas.
The scale, duration, and lethality of the Ebola outbreak have generated a high level of public fear and anxiety, which extends well beyond west Africa. Such reactions are understandable, given the high fatality rate and the absence of a vaccine or cure.
Recent intense media coverage of experimental medicines and vaccines is creating some unrealistic expectations, especially in an emotional climate of intense fear. The public needs to understand that these medical products are under investigation. They have not yet been tested in humans and are not approved by regulatory authorities, beyond use for compassionate care.
Between 12 and 13 August 2014, a total of 152 new cases of Ebola virus disease (laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) as well as 76 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
On 13-14 August, some airlines and social media and traditional media vehicles expressed concern that air travel to and from affected countries was a high-risk activity for the spread of Ebola. To correct this misunderstanding, WHO called a press conference at the UN Palais des Nations in Geneva on 14 August. Dr Isabelle Nuttall, speaking on behalf of WHO, said, “Air travel, even from Ebola-affected countries, is low-risk for Ebola transmission.”
The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa continues to escalate, with 1975 cases and 1069 deaths reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.
No new cases have been detected in Nigeria following the importation of a case in an air traveller last month. Extensive contact tracing and monitoring, implemented with support from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has kept the number of additional cases small.
The World Health Organization (WHO) today reiterated its position that the risk of transmission of Ebola virus disease during air travel remains low.
“Unlike infections such as influenza or tuberculosis, Ebola is not airborne,” says Dr Isabelle Nuttall, Director of WHO Global Capacity Alert and Response. “It can only be transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of a person who is sick with the disease.”
Between 10 and 11 August 2014, a total of 128 new cases of Ebola virus disease (laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) as well as 56 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.
Contact tracing in Guinea, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone has resulted in a range between 94% and 98% of contacts of EVD cases being identified and followed-up. In Liberia, efforts are underway to strengthen contact tracing, but help is needed in this area. The Liberian Army has also recently placed a third province under quarantine as part of the ongoing effort to stop transmission of EVD.
Distinguished Member States of the United Nations, ambassadors, diplomats, ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you. I want to share WHO’s assessment of the Ebola outbreak and brief you on the response.