New West Africa cases lift Ebola total to 1,093

Ebola virus particles
Ebola virus particles

Electron micrograph showing string-like Ebola virus particles shedding from an infected cell., NIAID

All three countries affected by West Africa's Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak reported new cases and deaths, with outbreak response efforts in each country getting closer scrutiny from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia reported 45 new cases and 28 deaths from Jul 18 to Jul 20, boosting the overall outbreak total to 1,093 infections, 660 of them fatal, the WHO said today in an update.

Of the latest cases, 5 infections and 4 deaths were reported in Guinea, where a few days ago the outbreak activity was said to be declining. Meanwhile, Liberia reported 28 new cases, along with 11 deaths, and Sierra Leone reported 12 new infections and 13 deaths.

The numbers include lab-confirmed, probable, and suspected cases and deaths, the WHO said.

Over the last week, Sierra Leone became the hardest-hit country and has now registered 454 cases, 219 of them fatal. Guinea—the first country affected by the outbreak—has reported 415 cases, but has the highest number of deaths at 314. So far Liberia has reported 224 EVD infections, along with 127 deaths.

Official WHO visits

Meanwhile, Luis Sambo, MD, the WHO's regional director for Africa, has started official visits to each of the three countries struck by the outbreak, wrapping up a 2-day visit to Liberia yesterday, the WHO said. Sambo is reviewing outbreak response actions and exploring the best ways to contain the spread of EVD in the countries.

While in Liberia, Sambo met with Liberia's president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the health minister, and other high-ranking officials, the WHO said in a statement yesterday. Sambo urged Liberian health officials to step up their response measures, including community engagement, contact tracing, cross-border collaboration, and coordination.

"The situation is quite serious and it would be addressed as an emergency," he said, according to the WHO statement. President Johnson-Sirleaf called on all government sectors to participate in the EVD response. "There's no time for denial. This is serious and real," she said in the statement.

Sambo also met with international and local health partners, as well as United Nations officials. The WHO said Liberia's first EVD wave occurred on Mar 30 and that the country has been in the midst of a second wave since May.

Leading doctor infected

In Sierra Leone, a doctor who has played a key role in the country's response to the outbreak has been hospitalized with an EVD infection, according to a BBC report, which cited a statement from Sierra Leone's president.

The doctor, Sheik Umar Kahn, tested positive for the virus and has been hospitalized in Kailahun, an outbreak hotspot.

The BBC also reported that nurses in Kenema recently went on strike following the deaths of three of their colleagues from suspected EVD. They have returned to their jobs while the government looks into their demands, which include relocating the Ebola treatment ward away from the hospital and handing over its operations to Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF).

See also:

Jul 23 WHO update

Jul 22 WHO statement

Jul 23 BBC report

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