Thursday, August 14, 2014

Guinea declares Ebola emergency

Guinea has a declared a national health emergency as it battles to curb the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

This meant tighter border controls, the immediate isolation of anyone suspected to have Ebola and a ban on moving bodies from one town to another, state radio reported.

Ebola has killed more than 1,000 people in West Africa amid fears that it could spread to East Africa.

This is the deadliest outbreak since the disease was discovered in 1976.

There is no cure for Ebola, but the first consignment of the experimental drug, ZMapp, has arrived in Liberia from the US, reports the BBC's Jonathan Paye-Layleh from the capital, Monrovia.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) approved giving patients untested drugs.

Ebola's initial flu-like symptoms can lead to external haemorrhaging from areas such as eyes and gums, and internal bleeding which can lead to organ failure. Patients have a better chance of survival if they receive early treatment.

'Might of law'

The outbreak was first identified in Guinea in February and has killed 377 people the country.

It has since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, which have all declared national health emergency, claiming a total of 1,069 lives by Wednesday, according to WHO.

Ebola virus disease (EVD)

  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage

  • Fatality rate can reach 90% - but the current outbreak is about 55%

  • Incubation period is two to 21 days

  • There is no vaccine or cure

  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery

  • Fruit bats are considered to be virus' natural host

Guinea's President Alpha Conde, in a statement read out on state radio, said people who had been in contact with Ebola victims were 'formally banned from leaving their homes until the end of their surveillance period.'

Anyone who contravened the measures would be considered 'a threat to public health and will face the might of the law', the statement said.

In Nigeria, where a third person has died of Ebola, Information Minister Labaran Maku said a nurse with the virus had 'disobeyed medical instructions' by travelling to the eastern city of Enugu.

This has resulted in 21 people in Enugu 'being watched', he said.

The nurse had been brought back to the main city, Lagos, where she is in an isolation unit, Mr Maku added.

The outbreak in Nigeria has so far been confined to Lagos. The virus was brought to the city by Liberian government employee Patrick Sawyer, who in Lagos on an official trip when he collapsed and died.

Meanwhile, the Kenya Medical Association has called on the government to suspend flights to Ebola-hit states.

The call comes after the WHO classified Kenya as a 'high-risk' country for the spread of Ebola.

Kenya was vulnerable because it was a major transport hub, with many flights from West Africa, the WHO said on Wednesday.

This is the first time West Africa has been affected by Ebola - previous outbreaks have affected East and Central Africa.

Ebola: Mapping the outbreak