Nation & World

No good news from West Africa on Ebola, WHO says in latest report

Conditions are continuing to deteriorate in the three West African countries most affected by the Ebola epidemic, the World Health Organization reported Wednesday.

The spread of the disease is far from under control in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the global health agency said. It said recent reports that new cases had declined in Liberia were “unlikely to be genuine” because of “profound problems” with data collection.

“The situation in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone continues to deteriorate, with widespread and persistent transmission” of Ebola, the WHO said.

It said responders to the disease were so overwhelmed that they had been unable to accurately make note of new cases in their reports. “It is clear from field reports and first responders that . . . cases are being under-reported from several key locations,” the WHO report said. “Beyond doubt . . . the situation in Liberia, and in Monrovia in particular, continues to deteriorate from week to week.”

“The upward epidemic trend continues in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone,” it said.

At least, 3,879 people have died in West Africa as of Sunday and another 8,033 have been sickened in the epidemic, the WHO reported. Liberia by far is the worst afflicted country, with 2,210 people dead and 3,924 sickened by the disease.

Health care workers continue to suffer a high rate of casualties, the WHO report said, with 401 infected, of whom 232 – 58 percent – have died.

The number of beds currently available in Ebola treatment centers, especially in Liberia and Sierra Leone, “still falls well short of the capacity required,” the report noted, three weeks after the United States said it would dispatch U.S. troops to help build treatment centers.

Currently, the report said, there are only 620 beds available for treating Ebola patients in Liberia, far fewer than the 2,930 required. The situation is similar in Sierra Leone, where 304 beds are available, far below the estimated 1,148 that are required to treat patients with the virus.

Moreover, despite calls by WHO chief Dr. Margaret Chan and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for additional funds and resources, commitments are not coming in fast enough, U.N. officials said. The U.N. requested $1 billion in mid-September; so far, $257 million has been received and another $162 million pledged, according to WHO spokesman Eric Porterfield.