Last Ebola-free region of Liberia falls to virus

August 23, 2014 by Zoom Dosso With Selim Saheb Ettaba In Dakar

Every region of Liberia has now been hit by Ebola, officials said Friday, as the World Health Organization warned the fight against the worst-ever outbreak of the killer disease would take months.

After seeing people fall to the in area after area, Liberia said two people had succumbed to the virus in Sinoe province, the last Ebola-free bastion in a country that has seen the biggest toll with 624 deaths.

The virus has spread relentlessly through Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, and Nigeria has also been affected despite showing some progress in fighting the epidemic, which has killed 1,427 people since March.

"(Sinoe) was the last area untouched by Ebola," George Williams, head of the Health Workers Association of Liberia, told AFP.

The country has witnessed chaotic scenes in recent days following a surge in the number of patients dying of the hemorrhagic fever.

Aid workers said crematoriums in the capital of Monrovia were struggling to deal with bodies arriving every day, and earlier this week, violence erupted in an Ebola quarantine zone in the capital after soldiers opened fire on protesting crowds.

In a bid to ease the crisis, medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is working on nearly quadrupling the capacity of its Ebola centre in Monrovia.

"Currently we have around 60 patients for a capacity of 120 beds," said Henry Gray, an MSF coordinator.

"And we are making our site bigger. In the next 10 days, we hope to have a location that can welcome up to 400 patients."

In neighbouring Nigeria, officials said Friday that two more people had tested positive for Ebola, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 14, including five deaths.

Flare up

In a news conference in Monrovia, WHO Assistant Director-General Dr Keiji Fukuda on Friday warned efforts to combat the disease would take some time.

"This is not something to turn around overnight, it is not going to be easy; we expect several months of hard work. We expect several months really struggling with this outbreak," he said at a press conference alongside Dr David Nabarro.

Nabarro, a physician appointed by the United Nations last week to coordinate the global response to the worst-ever outbreak of the disease, was in Monrovia as part of a tour of the region.

Speaking to AFP, he said he was determined to "ensure that every piece of our apparatus is at its optimum so it could deal possibly with a flare-up if that's necessary".

Nabarro is also due to visit Freetown, Conakry and Abuja during the trip, where he is tasked with revitalising the health sectors of affected countries.

No cure or vaccine is currently available for the deadly virus, which is spread by close contact with body fluids, meaning patients must be isolated.

However, two American missionaries who contracted Ebola while treating patients in Liberia made a full recovery in the United States. The two were treated with experimental drugs.

'They may die'

The failure of west African countries to bring the epidemic under control has worried its neighbours and nations further afield.

Senegal on Thursday closed its land border with Guinea, where 396 people have died to date, in an attempt to stop the epidemic reaching it.

Gabon, meanwhile, suspended flights and maritime links from affected countries, and said it would deliver visas to travellers coming from the Ebola zone "on a case-by-case basis".

In a further, urgent effort to contain the epidemic, Sierra Leone's parliament passed a law on Friday that imposes a jail term of up to two years for anyone concealing an Ebola-infected patient.

Ibrahim Bundu, a senior parliamentary figure, took the opportunity to blast some of the country's allies over their closures of land borders or flight suspensions.

"We are appalled by... the isolation imposed by those that we considered our best friends at a sub-regional, regional and global level," he said.

Meanwhile, as fears grow that the outbreak will spread across Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo—where Ebola was first identified in 1976 in what was then Zaire—said a fever of unidentified origin had killed 13 people in the country's northwest since August 11.

But a WHO official and MSF said Friday it was too soon to tell whether a haemorrhagic fever caused the deaths, and the results of swabs are due in a week's time.

Explore further: Senegal closes border as UN warns on Ebola flare-up

Related Stories

Senegal closes border as UN warns on Ebola flare-up

August 22, 2014
Senegal has become the latest country to seal its border with a west African neighbour to ward off the deadly Ebola virus, as the new UN pointman on the epidemic said preparations must be made for a possible flare-up of the ...

Ebola death toll tops 1,500: WHO (Update)

August 22, 2014
The death toll from the Ebola outbreak tearing through West Africa has passed the 1,500 mark while the number of cases has soared past 3,000, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

UN Ebola czar heads to West Africa

August 20, 2014
The UN's new pointman on Ebola said Tuesday he will travel to West Africa this week to shore up health services in the four countries hit by the worst-ever outbreak of the virus.

UN Ebola pointman to visit west Africa

August 21, 2014
The UN's new pointman on Ebola was due to arrive in west Africa on Thursday for a visit aimed at shoring up health services in the region where at least 1,350 lives have been lost to the virus.

Unidentified fever kills 13 in DR Congo in 10 days

August 22, 2014
A fever of unidentified origin has killed 13 people in the northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo since August 11, the health minister said.

Spanish missionary in Liberia tests positive for Ebola

August 5, 2014
A Spanish missionary working in Liberia has tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus, the aid organisation he works for said Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.