Liberia battled on Tuesday to halt the spread of the Ebola disease in its crowded, run-down oceanside capital Monrovia, recording the most new deaths as fatalities from the world’s worst outbreak of the deadly virus rose above 1,200.
On Tuesday, Liberian authorities announced that all suspected Ebola patients who had fled a Monrovia clinic that came under attack were now back in treatment at another clinic. The attack was seen as a potential major setback for Liberia’s efforts to contain the virus.
As the Geneva-based World Health Organization rushed to ramp up the global response to the outbreak first detected in March, including emergency food deliveries to quarantined zones, it announced that deaths from it had risen to 1,299 as of Aug. 16, out of 2,240 cases. Between Aug. 14-16, Liberia recorded the most new deaths, 53, followed by Sierra Leone with 17, and Guinea with 14.
The epidemic of the hemorrhagic disease also has a toehold in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy.
EBOLA: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
- What is the Ebola virus? A simple primer
- What is ZMapp? A primer on the controversial Ebola treatment
- Where is the virus? View a distribution map of Ebola cases, 1976-2014
- Canada’s response: Read the Public Health Agency of Canada’s travel advisory
GENEVA: UN MAKES FOOD RELIEF A PRIORITY
The WHO said it was working with the UN’s World Food Programme to ensure food delivery to one million people living in Ebola quarantine zones in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
“Food has been delivered to hospitalized patients and people under quarantine who are not able to leave their homes to purchase food. Providing regular food supplies is a potent means of limiting unnecessary movement,” the WHO said in a statement.
The WFP is stepping up emergency food deliveries to the quarantined areas, which include severely-affected cities such as Gueckedou in Guinea, Kenema and Kailahun in Sierra Leone and Foya in Liberia.
On Friday, Sierra Leone, Liberia and a medical charity chided the WHO for its slow response, saying more action was needed to save victims threatened by the disease and hunger.
LIBERIA: ALL PATIENTS FROM CLINIC ATTACK FOUND
Besides infection in border zones, Liberia is fighting to stop the spread of the virus in the poorest neighborhoods of its capital, such as the West Point slum where at the weekend a rock-throwing crowd attacked and looted a temporary holding centre for suspected Ebola cases, 17 of whom fled.
As fears of wider contagion increased – Ebola is spread by contact with the bodily fluids of infected persons – Liberia sent police to track down the fugitive suspected cases.
“We are glad to confirm that all of the 17 individuals have been accounted for and have now been transferred to JFK Ebola specialist treatment centre,” Liberia’s Information Minister Lewis Brown told Reuters on Tuesday.
He added that after meetings with religious and community leaders, a task force was being set up that would go door-to-door through the West Point neighborhood, a labyrinth of muddy alleys, to explain the risks of the disease and why anyone showing symptoms must be quickly isolated for treatment.
ZMAPP: LIBERIAN DOCTORS SHOWING 'SIGNS OF IMPROVEMENT'
In Monrovia, three African health-care workers were given the rare experimental ZMapp drug, which has already been used on two American aid workers being treated in the United States after being evacuated from Liberia with Ebola.
The WHO this month gave the green light to use untested pharmaceuticals to treat Ebola patients.
Lewis said the three Africans treated with ZMapp were showing “remarkable signs of improvement,” quoting an assessment by the doctor overseeing their treatment.
However, the manufacturer of the drug, California-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical, has already said its scarce supplies have been exhausted. Officials have cautioned the public not to place too much hope in untested and scarce treatments.
Follow us on Twitter: