Ebola: Health Minister Says No More Contacts Under Surveillance

Onyebuchi Chukwu on Ebola Virus.Nigeria no longer has any Ebola contacts under surveillance, the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, said on Wednesday.

Professor Chukwu told a gathering at the on-going 69th UN General Assembly in New York that all contacts had completed 21 days of observation and had been discharged.

Those discharged include the remaining 25 Ebola contacts located in Port Harcourt area, he said.

As it stands, the total number of confirmed Ebola Virus Disease cases recorded in Nigeria remains 19, with 12 survivors and seven deaths.

The virus was brought into Nigeria in July by a Liberian-American man, Patrick Sawyer, who died on July 25 at a hospital in Lagos.

His death triggered surveillance and isolation of primary contacts in Lagos to contain the spread of the virus.

Six more deaths were, however, recorded both in Lagos and Port Harcourt, with the Port Harcourt cases resulting after a contact under surveillance left Lagos for Port Harcourt without authorisation.

The World Health Organization has commended Nigeria’s effort in containing the virus in a city like Lagos with over 20 million population.

Ebola Could Strike 20,000 In Six Weeks And “Rumble On For Years” – Study

Ebola Health Workers.Researchers have said that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could infect 20,000 people as soon as early November unless rigorous infection control measures are implemented, and might “rumble on” for years in a holding pattern.

In an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Imperial College said that infections would continue climbing exponentially unless patients are isolated, contacts traced and communities enlisted.

The WHO, in an initial roadmap issued on August 28, predicted that the virus could strike 20,000 people within the next nine months. The current death toll is at least 2,811 out of 5,864 cases, the U.N. agency says.

The latest study, marking six months from March 23, when the WHO says it was informed of the Ebola outbreak in southeastern Guinea, reflects projections based on the data from a third wave of the virus in Guinea, Sierra Leone and worst-hit Liberia.

“With exponential growth, you’ll see that the case numbers per week go up so that by the second of November, over these three countries our best estimate is over 20,000 cases, confirmed and suspected cases,” the WHO director of strategy, and co-author of article, Dr. Christopher Dye, told a briefing.

Nearly 10,000 of those would be in Liberia, 5,000 in Sierra Leone and nearly 6,000 in Guinea, he said. But those numbers would only come about with no enhanced infection control.

“Everyone is certainly working very hard to make sure this is a not the reality that we will be seeing,” Dye said. “I will be surprised if we hit 20,000 by then,” he later added.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last week that under a $1 billion plan, he would create a special mission to combat the disease and deployed staff to the region.

“If control is completely successful in the way that we know it can be, then Ebola will disappear from the human population of West Africa and probably return to its animal reservoir,” Dye said, noting that fruit bats were probably the reservoir.

But if control efforts are only partly successful, Ebola viral disease in the human population could become “a permanent feature of life in West Africa”, Dye said.Ebola

“The alternative possibility that we’re talking about is that the epidemic simply rumbles on as it has for the last few months for the next few years, on the order of years, rather than months.

“Under those circumstances, the fear is that Ebola will be more or less a permanent feature of the human population. Of course it could be extinguished later on.”

“In the three hardest-hit countries there was a “mixed pattern”, Dye said.

“We see for example in the border areas of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, some areas where there has been no increase in cases for some weeks now. That’s true in Sierra Leone, it’s true in Lofa in northern Liberia, and it’s true in one of the provinces of Guinea.

“So the question that arises is whether we’re actually seeing the beginning of a stationary pattern in this epidemic.

“In two badly affected districts of Sierra Leone, Kenema and Kailahun, close to border areas with Guinea and Liberia, there has been a stationary pattern, he said.

“What we’ve seen in the past weeks there, maybe eight, nine, 10 weeks now, is a pattern of incidence, numbers of cases per week, which has not significantly changed.

“And indeed there are signs that it’s going down. And I say that cautiously, because we’re prepared to be surprised again. That is what I mean by stationary pattern. A steady incidence week on week.”

There are other reassuring signs about the efficacy of infection control measures, he said, but whether the disease’s spread was stabilising would become clear in the next few weeks.

No new cases have been recorded in either Nigeria or Senegal in the last three weeks, corresponding to the 21-day incubation period for developing the virulent virus, whose symptoms include fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.

“It is reassuring in many ways that a disease like Ebola can enter a city of 20 million, namely Lagos, and we are able to stop transmission, or rather the people of Nigeria are able to stop transmission,” Dye said.

But the Liberian capital Monrovia, where the disease has recently spread fastest, was “uncharted territory”, he said.

“Quite honestly if you ask ‘can we stamp Ebola out of Liberia?’ I’m not sure. In principle we know how to do it, but can we do it on the ground? It remains to be seen.”

 

 

Sierra Leone Records 130 New Ebola Cases During 3-day Lockdown

Ebola virus diseaseThe head of the Ebola Emergency Operations Centre, Stephen Gaojia, said on Monday that Sierra Leone recorded 130 new cases of the Ebola virus during a three-day lockdown and it is waiting for test results on a further 39 suspected cases.

The  country had ordered its six million citizens to stay indoors until Sunday night in the most extreme strategy employed by a West African nation since the start of an epidemic that has infected 5,762 people since March and killed 2,793 of those.

“The exercise has been largely successful … The outreach was just overwhelming. There was massive awareness of the disease,” Gaojia said, noting that authorities reached more than 80 per cent of the households they had intended to target.

Sierra Leone now needs to focus on treatment and case management and it urgently needs treatment centres in all its 14 districts as well as “foot soldiers” in clinics and hospitals, he said.

“We need clinicians, epidemiologists, lab technicians, infection-control practitioners and nurses,” he said.

The hemorrhagic fever, which has struck mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, is the worst since Ebola was identified in 1976 in the forests of central Africa. At least 562 have died in Sierra Leone.

The lockdown was intended to allow 30,000 health workers, volunteers and teachers to visit every household. Some argued it might have a negative impact on Sierra Leone’s poor.