Libya Reports Highest COVID-19 Cases For Single Day

Libyans go on with their lives in the capital Tripoli on March 10, 2020. According to Libyan authorities, not a single case of coronavirus so far has been recorded in the country which faces Italy across the Mediterranean. Mahmud TURKIA / AFP.


Libya on Monday reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus infections, the highest tally for a single day since the conflict-ravaged country announced its first cases in late March.

“Of the 4,291 tests performed on Sunday, 1,080 were positive,” said the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), a Tripoli-based government agency.

The figure brings the total number of Covid-19 cases in the North African country to 18,834, including 16,376 who required hospitalisation, 2,162 patients who recovered and 296 deaths.

The NCDC urged people in areas where the virus is spreading rapidly to avoid travel unless it is essential.

Tripoli and its suburbs, home to more than one-third of Libya’s population, accounted for more than half of the new cases for the third week in a row.

On Sunday, the NCDC launched a campaign to raise awareness about health protocols, including the wearing of masks which is compulsory in public.

It called on Tripoli residents to be more vigilant and to respect such measures given the “rapidly worsening epidemiological situation”.

Libya, ravaged by a complex web of conflicts since the ouster of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising, has seen Covid-19 cases surge, weighing on already stretched health services.

At the end of August, the World Health Organization voiced alarm over the uptick in infections.

“Compounding the situation, Libya’s health care system has been badly disrupted by years of conflict,” the WHO said.

“Given the acute shortages of tests and laboratory capacity, the real number of (Covid-19) cases is likely to be much higher.”


France Puts More Departments On COVID-19 High Alert


French authorities have placed seven more departments covering major cities such as Lille, Strasbourg and Dijon on high alert as increases in COVID-19 infections accelerate, the government said Sunday.

Of France’s 101 mainland and overseas departments, 28 are now considered “red zones” where authorities will be able to impose exceptional measures to slow the number of new coronavirus cases.

The move comes as France reported a record of nearly 9,000 daily cases on Friday, and a further 8,550 cases in the past 24 hours on Saturday, when the nationwide test positivity rate increased to 4.7 percent.

Paris and the Bouches-du-Rhone department encompassing the southeastern city of Lyon were the first to be placed on high alert by the government on August 14 after infection rates began to climb.

That prompted local officials to require face masks in all public spaces to slow the virus’s spread, in hope of avoiding a spike in cases that could again overwhelm hospitals as autumn approaches.

The Sante Publique France health agency, which has warned of “exponential” caseload increases, said Saturday that 53 new outbreak clusters had been discovered in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number under investigation to 484.

Twelve more Covid-19 deaths were reported, for an overall toll of 30,698 since the pandemic flared last March.

Concerns over infection risks have already prompted officials to close 22 schools after cases were detected just days after students returned from the summer break last week, and dozens of individual classes have also been suspended.

On Sunday, the government said pre-school teachers as well as those with deaf students would soon be given transparent masks to facilitate comprehension at a crucial education stage for young children.

“More than 100,000 of these masks will be produced by the end of this month,” the state secretary in charge of people with disabilities, Sophie Cluzel, told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.


Russia’s COVID-19 Cases Surpass 1 Million As Students Return To School

Medical workers transport a woman into a hospital where patients infected with the COVID-19 novel coronavirus are being treated in the settlement of Kommunarka outside Moscow on April 27, 2020. Alexander NEMENOV / AFP.


Russia surpassed the one million mark in total coronavirus cases on Tuesday as students throughout the country returned to classrooms on the first day of the new school year.

Health officials reported 4,729 new confirmed infections, bringing the total to 1,000,048 — the world’s fourth-largest caseload after the United States, Brazil and India.

President Vladimir Putin was expected to address some 17 million students and more than 1.5 million teachers in an online lesson on World War II.

Schools across Europe are reopening despite the worries of many parents and teachers that the move could accelerate the spread of Covid-19 after leaders said their countries had beaten back the virus and eased restrictions.

Putin has repeatedly said that Russia has passed peak infections and the government eased most restrictions in June ahead of large World War II commemorations and a national vote on a new constitution.

The government’s anti-virus information website said this week that children would not be required to wear masks in the classroom, cafeterias or during lunch breaks.

But pupils will have their temperature checked on arrival, the head of the consumer watchdog Anna Popova said, adding that “no one can go to school if they are feeling even slightly unwell”.

In Moscow, the epicentre of Russia’s outbreak, masks are compulsory for teachers and recommended for students.

All school staff in the capital have been tested for coronavirus, the authorities have said.

Putin announced last month that Russia had become the first country to register a coronavirus vaccine, but scientists and the World Health Organization said it still needed a rigorous safety review.

Russia has registered 17,299 virus deaths, a low figure compared to other countries hit hard by the pandemic.

Critics have cast doubt on the low official mortality rate and accused authorities of under-reporting to play down the scale of the crisis.

Officials insist the low fatality count is down to a campaign of mass testing, which has identified many coronavirus cases with mild or no symptoms.


Surging COVID-19 Deepening Libya Crisis – Red Cross

Libyans go on with their lives in the capital Tripoli on March 10, 2020. According to Libyan authorities, not a single case of coronavirus so far has been recorded in the country which faces Italy across the Mediterranean. Mahmud TURKIA / AFP.


Coronavirus cases have skyrocketed 15-fold in Libya since June, the Red Cross said Thursday, warning this was further deepening the dire humanitarian crisis in the conflict-ravaged country.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said known COVID-19 cases in Libya had soared from 571 in June to more than 9,000 on Thursday.

“There is a continuous degradation of the humanitarian situation in Libya,” ICRC president Peter Maurer told reporters, pointing out that after nine years of violent conflict, many families have seen any reserves they once had fully depleted.

Maurer, who travelled to Libya earlier this week, said the number of Libyans depending on humanitarian aid to survive had been steadily growing as homes and infrastructure have been destroyed and the economy has collapsed.

The crisis has now been “further accentuated by COVID”, he said.

“Infrastructure all over the country is falling apart,” he cautioned in a statement.

“People have little electricity, drinking water, sanitation, or medical care in the middle of a growing pandemic.”

Maurer said he had met with Libya’s eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar and with Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, who heads the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli.

He said they had “long conversations on all aspects of humanitarian activity”, adding that he had stressed the importance of following international humanitarian law and protecting civilians.

“Despite the political and military and strategic confrontation, what I saw in my now third visit to Libya in the past two years, was an increasing readiness to engage” with ICRC, he said.

Libya has been in chaos since a Western-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

Haftar launched an offensive in April 2019 to seize Tripoli, but after 14 months of fierce fighting, the Turkish-backed pro-GNA forces expelled his troops from much of western Libya, and pushed them eastwards to Sirte, a gateway to Libya’s rich oil fields and export terminals.

While there remains a dire need to find a political solution to Libya’s conflict and multiple crises, Maurer said there seemed to be a growing appreciation of the need to facilitate the work of humanitarians on the ground.

He also said ICRC had recently been able to resume visits to detention centres in Benghazi, Misrata and Tripoli run by the justice ministries of the two opposing administrations.

While the organisation had yet to gain access to other places of detention, he said his discussions showed he had received positive signals that this could soon be possible.


Australia Moves To Seal Off Coronavirus-Hit State As Outbreak Worsens

An ambulance is seen outside one of nine public housing estates locked down due to a spike in COVID-19 coronavirus numbers in Melbourne on July 6, 2020. – Australia will effectively seal off the state of Victoria from the rest of the country, authorities said on July 6, announcing unprecedented measures to tackle a worrying surge in coronavirus cases. William WEST / AFP.


Australia will effectively seal off the state of Victoria from the rest of the country, authorities said Monday, announcing unprecedented measures to tackle a worrying surge in coronavirus cases.

For the first time since the epidemic began, the border between Australia’s two most populous states — Victoria and New South Wales — will be closed overnight Tuesday, officials from both states said.

Home to more than 6.6 million people, Victoria announced a record 127 new cases Monday as the virus spread through Melbourne — including a cluster in several densely populated apartment blocks.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews described the decision to close off the state as “the smart call, the right call at this time, given the significant challenges we face in containing this virus”.

Police said they will use “drones and other aerial surveillance” to patrol the vast border, with large fines and up to six months in jail for people who breach the order.

Plans to reopen Victoria’s border with South Australia have already been put on ice.

After weeks of easing virus restrictions, Melbourne has seen a huge spike in community transmission, leading health officials to effectively shut off some neighbourhoods to the rest of the city until the end of July.

Sixteen of the new cases were detected in nine high-rise public housing towers, where 3,000 residents were locked in their homes on Saturday in Australia’s strictest coronavirus response to date.

So far, a total of 53 cases have been recorded in the buildings, which are home to a large number of vulnerable migrants.

There are concerns the virus could spread rapidly, with one health official likening the crowded conditions inside to “vertical cruise ships” — a reference to high transmission rates seen on ocean liners.

Community leaders have raised concerns about the targeted nature of the “hard lockdown”, which saw hundreds of police officers deployed with almost no warning, leaving some residents with little time to stock up on essentials.

Andrews said food and toys had been delivered to families, while mental health and other medical support was being provided as officials sought to test every resident over the coming days.

“This is a massive task and the message to everybody in the towers… (is) those staff — thousands of them — are doing the very, very best they can and they will continue to do everything they can to support those who are impacted by this lockdown,” he said.

Tensions flared when a man tried to leave one of the towers Monday, sparking a scuffle during which police allege he bit an officer. The 32-year-old was arrested and taken into custody.

Australia has recorded more than 8,500 cases of coronavirus and 106 fatalities from COVID-19, including two deaths in Victoria over the past 24 hours.

The bulk of new daily cases are now being detected in Melbourne, while most other regions are enjoying relaxed restrictions after largely curbing the virus spread.


India Reports Record Daily Cases In COVID-19 Battle

This photo taken on June 11, 2020 shows a man (R) in an ambulance outside the COVID-19 coronavirus ward at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) hospital in New Delhi. Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP.


India added a record number of coronavirus cases Sunday, as the world’s fourth worst-hit nation opened a huge treatment centre with 10,000 beds in the capital to fight the epidemic.

The health ministry reported just under 25,000 cases and 613 deaths in 24 hours — the biggest daily spike since the first case was detected in late January.

The surge took India’s total tally to more than 673,000 cases and 19,268 deaths.

It came as the capital New Delhi started treating patients at a spiritual centre converted into a sprawling isolation facility and hospital with 10,000 beds, many made of cardboard and chemically coated to make them waterproof.

About the size of 20 football fields, the facility on the outskirts of the city will treat mild symptomatic and asymptomatic cases.

State government officials fear Delhi, home to 25 million people, could record more than half-a-million cases by the end of the month.

The city has repurposed some hotels to provide hospital care. It is also converting wedding halls and has several hundred modified railway coaches standing by.

A strict lockdown in place since late March has gradually been lifted, allowing most activities as the economy nose-dived amid the shutdown.

But the number of cases across the vast nation of 1.3 billion people has climbed steeply and is now close to surpassing badly-hit Russia.

Schools, metro trains in cities, cinemas, gyms and swimming pools remain closed and international flights are still grounded.

Authorities have made wearing masks mandatory in public places, while large gatherings are banned and shops and other public establishments are required to implement social distancing.

The western state of Maharashtra, the worst-hit state and home to financial hub Mumbai, recorded over 7,000 new cases while Southern Tamil Nadu state and Delhi recorded more than 4,200 and 2,500 fresh cases respectively.

Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai, Tamil Nadu’s capital, are the worst-affected cities.

The national government says it has tackled the virus well but critics allege India is conducting very few tests, leaving the true scale of the pandemic unknown.


Cameroon Government Under Fire As COVID-19 Tally Rises

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 06, 2020 Some people wear masks as they walk by the entrance to the Yaounde General Hospital in Yaounde as Cameroon has confirmed its first case of the COVID-19 coronavirus, a French national who arrived in the capital Yaounde in February, the government said on today. AFP


Cameroon’s government faces mounting accusations that foot-dragging and incompetence have helped coronavirus gain a deadly grip.

In less than three months, the official case tally has risen to nearly 6,600, including 200 deaths — the third-highest number of infections of any country south of the Sahara.

Compared with Europe and America, this total is low, but experts warn of COVID-19’s ability to spread like wildfire in countries where health systems are weak and testing is poor.

Despite forecasts that cases would peak in June, schools and universities were suddenly told to reopen this week, prompting teachers and parents to warn that safety preparedness was nowhere near ready.

Cameroon on March 5 became the first central African country to register a case of the virus — a 58-year-old French national who had arrived in the capital Yaounde in February.

But it was not until two weeks later that the authorities set down restrictions for the country’s 25 million people.

READ ALSO: Armenia Hospitals Overwhelmed As COVID-19 Cases Surge

The opposition has repeatedly criticised what it says is the government’s failure to take the threat of COVID-19 seriously, as many other African countries imposed radical containment measures early on.

Albert Ze, an economist specialising in health issues, told AFP that management of the epidemic had been “disastrous.”

“We missed the opportunity to contain the virus at the very beginning,” he said.

President Paul Biya, who has been in power for nearly four decades, only appeared publicly on television on May 19, pressured by the opposition and the World Health Organization (WHO) after more than two months of silence.

– No lockdown –

“We are seeing a particularly significant progression of the epidemic — it’s extremely serious,” Eugene Sobngwi, vice chairman of the health ministry’s scientific council, told state television on May 24.

Cameroon could become “the laughing stock of the world,” he said.

Rebutting such worries, Health Minister Manaouda Malachie on Monday said the case figures “should not be a cause for alarm… so far the government has been in control of the situation”.

Ze accused the government of a lax response in key areas as the epidemic began to brew.

“Cameroon did not close its land, air and sea borders until March 18 — 12 days after the first ‘imported’ case, and weeks after many other African countries,” he said.

The government was also laid back in social distancing, limiting gatherings to 50 people while other countries on the continent set a maximum of 10.

No lockdown has ever been imposed in Cameroon, and restaurants, bars and nightclubs were only forced to close after 6pm.

And those restrictions, as well as rules for distancing on public transport, were not implemented until mid-March.

Despite the late response, the impact of those measures was “immediate — Cameroonians understood there was a major problem,” said Professor Yap Boum II, an epidemiologist and head of a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) research centre in Yaounde.

A month after the start of the epidemic, the authorities required wearing of facemasks, and this too helped strengthen awareness and tighten control over the virus, he said.

But on April 30 the government abruptly eased public transport restrictions and allowed bars, restaurants and nightclubs to reopen in the evenings.

In the public’s mind, the brakes were now off, said Boum.

The move “led to almost total relaxation of the population, as if this announcement sounded the end of the epidemic,” Boum said.

“We saw fewer and fewer people wearing masks, and more and more people in bars — and a month later we more than tripled” the number of cases and fatalities, he said.

– Back to school –

The reopening of schools and universities, another unexpected move, has been attacked as premature by teachers’ unions and parents, who have taken to social media to voice their fears.

The amount of equipment made available is “ridiculously small,” said Roger Kaffo, general secretary of the National Union of Secondary School Teachers, pointing out that the supply of 3,000 masks was not even one mask per teacher at secondary-school level.

Daniel Claude Abate, president of an association of small and medium-sized businesses and member of the ruling RDPC party, defended the government’s decision not to impose the toughest restrictions.

“We cannot afford to shut down our countries, with fragile economies, as others do,” he said.

Even so, “there should have been surveillance policy measures” to track the virus, he said, conceding the government had made “some mistakes.”


New COVID-19 Cases Threaten World’s Moves Back To Work


World powers including Russia and India pushed on with easing coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday, despite upsurges in infections in parts of the world and warnings of a second wave epidemic.

Chinese authorities, meanwhile, moved to test the entire 11-million strong population of the city of Wuhan, cradle of the global pandemic, after new cases were reported there.

In Russia, the government began to gradually ease lockdown rules, after reporting more than 10,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus every day for over a week.

And in India, the giant railway network ground back to life, in defiance of a recent surge in the number of infections, with 3,600 recorded on Monday, just below Sunday’s record tally.

Various economic and social lockdowns have paralysed much of the global economy, and many areas are now cautiously moving back to work, but world markets were trading cautiously amid fears of a second wave epidemic.

– Warning of ‘needless suffering’ –

The United States — where at least 80,000 people have died — has the world’s highest case-load, but President Donald Trump is keen to reopen the economy quickly amid soaring job losses.

He faces resistance, however, and Washington’s top epidemiologist Anthony Fauci has warned of “needless suffering and death” if Americans return to work and group leisure activities before the pandemic is under control.

READ ALSO: Spain Unveils 14-day Quarantine For Arrivals

“If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to: ‘Open America Again,’ then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country,” Fauci told the New York Times in an email.

“This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal,” he warned, ahead of planned testimony to a Senate committee Tuesday.

The United States logged a second consecutive day of fewer than 900 coronavirus deaths on Monday, just as the World Health Organization warned of the need for “extreme vigilance” against a second wave.

– Test and trace –

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a cautious return to work from Tuesday, but the gradual effort was overshadowed by a fire in a Saint Petersburg coronavirus hospital that left five people dead.

Observers were also nervously eyeing Wuhan, where the virus was first reported late year, after the Chinese city registered the first cluster of new COVID-19 infections since it reopened after a 76-day lockdown on April 8.

“Each district should make plans and arrangements to conduct nucleic acid tests on the entire population in its jurisdiction within a 10-day time limit,” according to an official statement.

Cautious optimism in some quarters was also tempered by the increasingly dire economic situation, with Belgium’s Brussels Airlines becoming the latest carrier to warn of massive job losses.

The virus has now killed more than 286,000 people around the world, according to a tally compiled by AFP. The number of infections has surpassed 4.1 million, but seems to be slowing.

“The good news is that there has been a great deal of success in slowing the virus and ultimately saving lives,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

But the agency’s emergencies chief Michael Ryan lamented that some governments were choosing to “drive through this blind” by not ramping up capacity to test for and trace the virus.

– White House fears –

The virus appeared to have gained a foothold in the White House at the weekend, with a second confirmed case.

West Wing staff were told Monday they had to wear masks, and Trump said he might limit contact with his deputy after an aide to Vice President Mike Pence tested positive.

Trump, who is desperately seeking to reboot the economy ahead of the November election, said the US was making “tremendous strides” in ramping up testing.

“The people want our country open,” he said.

On Tuesday, France reported a 27 percent plunge in economic activity for April compared with pre-pandemic forecasts.

Japanese auto giant Toyota said it expected a 79.5 percent drop in annual operating profit this fiscal year, calling the effect of the virus “wide-ranging, significant and serious”.

Industry chiefs say the business landscape could look very different in the future.

“It’s most likely,” Boeing CEO David Calhoun told a reporter when asked if a major US airline could go bust over the coming months.

“You know something will happen in September,” Calhoun said. “Traffic levels will not be back to 100 percent, they won’t even be back to 25.”

– ‘Very emotional’ –

In Europe, where infection rates and death tolls have significantly tailed off, millions of people have begun emerging from lockdown.

Spaniards revelled in being able to visit outdoor terraces and cafes after months under one of the world’s toughest lockdowns, although virus hotspots such as Madrid and Barcelona remain under wraps.

“It’s very emotional, almost as if we were opening for the first time,” said a smiling Raffa Olivier after setting up tables outside his ice-cream parlour in the seaside town of Tarragona.

Shopping districts were once again populated in Greece, while in the Netherlands, Switzerland and Croatia youngsters headed back to the classroom after weeks at home.


Spain Records 1,500 New Coronavirus Cases In One Day

Passengers wearing protective masks queue at the airport in Madrid on March 13, 2020 as Spain’s government was to declare a state of alert over the rapid spread of the deadly coronavirus after infections soared over 4,200 with 120 dead. OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP


Spain confirmed more than 1,500 new cases of coronavirus between Friday and Saturday raising its total to 5,753 cases, the second-highest number in Europe after Italy.

The country was expected to declare a state of alert on Saturday to try to mobilise resources to combat the virus, which has so far killed 136 people in Spain.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was due to speak at a cabinet meeting at 1300 GMT to announce the state of alert and new measures expected to limit the movement of people.

READ ALSO: Rwanda Confirms First Coronavirus Case

On Friday said the government would adopt a series of extraordinary measures in order “to mobilise all the resources of the state to better protect the health of all of its citizens”.

The number of cases in Spain has increased tenfold since Sunday, and bars, restaurants and all sporting and cultural institutions have been closed.

The Madrid region, which is the country’s worst-hit with nearly 3,000 cases, has ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses.


Coronavirus: Affected Countries In Europe

European Union, Ogbonnaya Onu, Science and technology


With governments scrambling to contain a slew of new coronavirus cases across Europe, here is an overview of the countries affected, where people have died and precautions being taken.


With 14 deaths and 528 infections, Italy is by far the European country worst affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. It has also been a point of contagion with many cases in other countries involving people who returned home after travelling in infection-hit areas of northern Italy.

Israel on Thursday began turning away foreign nationals who arrived on flights from Italy to contain the virus’s spread.


In Germany, 26 people have been infected, including 10 diagnosed since Tuesday. Fourteen of the 26 work for an equipment manufacturer in Bavaria, and were infected by a colleague returning from China. Several hundred people are quarantined in their homes.


France has so far registered 18 infections and two deaths, and has urged its nationals to delay travel to virus hotspots in northern Italy. Students returning from China, Singapore, South Korea and the Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto are asked to remain at home for two weeks after their return.


Spain has registered 17 cases — 15 of them since Monday. Twelve are linked to Italy.

They include four Italians who were visiting Tenerife in the Canary Islands. The hotel where they were staying has been quarantined.

Three cases have been registered on the Spanish mainland, including one man in serious condition in the Madrid region.


Britain has thus far recorded 15 cases, including two announced on Thursday: one patient had been in Italy and the other in Tenerife. The government has requested travellers returning from affected areas in northern Italy, China, South Korea and Iran to isolate themselves and inform authorities.


Switzerland has registered four cases since Tuesday, including a man in his 70s who was infected near Milan.


Two infected Chinese citizens have been treated in Russia, which has also repatriated and quarantined eight passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, of whom three have tested positive.


A 72-year-old man in Vienna tested positive on Thursday, making him Austria’s third case after an Italian couple, both 24, tested positive on Tuesday.

The Innsbruck hotel where the Italian woman worked as a receptionist was initially placed on lockdown but the measure was lifted late Tuesday following tests. Austria has urged its nationals to avoid visiting affected areas of neighbouring Italy.


Three people have tested positive for the virus, including a young man who recently stayed in Italy and his brother. A third case was detected Wednesday in a man who works in the Italian city of Parma.


Greece has announced three cases — all Greeks who had recently returned from northern Italy.

Athens announced its first infection Wednesday, a woman aged 38. Two more were announced on Thursday, including a 10-year-old.

All three affected are Greek nationals.

The authorities have cancelled carnival celebrations planned for this weekend.


Two virus infections were confirmed Wednesday — a Chinese tourist in Lapland and a second case involving a Finnish national who had recently visited northern Italy.


Two cases have been detected so far. One was registered at the end of January: a woman who had visited Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus emerged in December. On Wednesday, a second infection was discovered — in a man returning from northern Italy.


One case was detected in a Belgian national who was repatriated from Wuhan in early February.


Denmark announced its first case on Thursday — a man returning from a skiing trip to northern Italy. His wife and son tested negative. He is described as not in danger, and the family is being confined to their home.


Georgia on Wednesday announced the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in the South Caucasus region.


One case has been detected — a woman who recently returned from Italy.


Norwegian health authorities announced Wednesday the first case of the new coronavirus in the Nordic nation in someone who returned from China last week. They said the patient was not in danger.


Romania reported its first case on Wednesday — a man who was in contact with an Italian who visited the country last week.


Ebola Cases In DR Congo Break 2,000 Mark


DR Congo’s health ministry said it had recorded more than 2,000 cases of Ebola, two-thirds of which had been fatal, since the disease broke out in the country’s east 10 months ago.

“Since the start of the epidemic, the total number of cases stands at 2,008, of which 1,914 have been confirmed [by lab test] while 94 are probable,” it said in an update issued late Monday.

“In all, there have been 1,346 deaths (1,252 confirmed and 94 probable) and 539 people have recovered.”

The ministry said it was important to retain the overall perspective, despite the breaching of the symbolic threshold of 2,000 cases.

“In recent weeks, the trend has been positive, although vigilance is still necessary,” it said.

There have been fewer attacks on Ebola teams by armed groups, which means health workers have “recovered some of the lost time to contain the spread of the epidemic,” it said.

The epidemic was first declared in North Kivu province on August 1 and then spread to neighbouring Ituri, although there have not been any cases in neighbouring countries.

Oxfam’s director for the DRC, Corinne N’Daw, said “it is clear the current response to tackle Ebola isn’t working. No matter how effective treatment is, if people don’t trust or understand it, they will not use it.”

She added: “Our teams are still meeting people on a daily basis who don’t believe Ebola is real… many cases are going unnoticed because people with symptoms have been avoiding treatment.”

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also voiced its concern.

“Worryingly, the number of Ebola cases has increased significantly in recent weeks to between 15-20 new cases per day,” it said in a press release.

It called for a “reset” of the response, combining scaled-up aid with a greater role for local people in carrying it out.

Efforts to tackle the crisis have been hampered both by militia attacks on treatment centres and by the hostility of some local people to the medical teams.

Five workers have been killed, according to an AFP tally, and important preventative work, such as vaccination programmes and burials of Ebola victims, has been delayed, said N’Daw.

The outbreak is the 10th in Democratic Republic of Congo since the disease was identified in 1976.

It is the worst on record after an epidemic that struck three African countries between 2014-2016, leaving more than 11,300 people dead.

On May 23, the World Health Organization (WHO) appointed David Gressly, serving as the UN’s deputy special representative in DR Congo, to coordinate the global response to the epidemic.

Six More Cases Of Monkeypox Confirmed

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire has announced laboratory confirmation of six additional cases among the suspected cases of Monkeypox.

These include two cases each in Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom States, one in Enugu State and one in the Federal Capital Territory, making it a total of nine confirmed cases of Monkeypox in Nigeria.

Dr Ehanire who announced this today in his office said investigations are ongoing to see if any of the new cases have a link with the Bayelsa cluster, where the outbreak started.

READ ALSO: Three Suspected Cases Of Monkeypox Confirmed In Delta

He called for calm among members of the public, as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is working with all affected States to ensure case finding and adequate management.

He added that as frightening as the manifestation of the ailment may seem, no fatality has been recorded to date.

As at October 25, 2017, a total of 94 suspected cases have been reported from 11 States (Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Rivers) and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He noted that the newly confirmed cases are patients already being managed by public health authorities and have been receiving appropriate clinical care since the onset of the illness.

The Federal Ministry of Health, through the NCDC, is in close contact with all State Epidemiology Teams, as well as the health facilities providing clinical care to both suspected and confirmed cases.

State Commissioners of Health have been advised to place all health care facilities and disease surveillance and notification officers on alert, to ensure early case detection, reporting and effective treatment.

Ehanire said, “A National-level Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) led by the NCDC with support from our development partners, is coordinating outbreak investigation and response across affected States.

“The EOC includes the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, as well as experts from partner agencies.

“The NCDC has also deployed Rapid Response Teams to the four States with confirmed cases. Measures have been put in place to ensure proper investigation of all reported cases, effective sample collection and testing, as well as case management of all suspected and confirmed cases. Risk communication activities have been heightened to advise the public as well as healthcare workers on preventive measures. A nationwide communications campaign has begun, to inform Nigerians of key preventive measures to take to curtail the further spread of monkeypox.”

Nigerians are advised to always wash hands with soap and water after contact with animals or, when caring for sick relatives, or managing soiled beddings.