The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the outbreak of the Ebola disease in West Africa continued to escalate, with 1975 cases and 1069 deaths reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.
A statement issued by the WHO and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Friday said no new cases had been detected in Nigeria following the importation of a case in an air traveller last month.
It said extensive contact tracing and monitoring, implemented with support from the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), had kept the number of additional cases small.
It observed that elsewhere, the outbreak was expected to continue for some time, adding that WHO’s operational response plan extends over the next several months.
The statement said staff at the outbreak sites saw evidence that the numbers of reported cases and deaths vastly underestimated the magnitude of the outbreak.
It said the WHO was coordinating a massive scaling up of the international response, marshalling support from individual countries, disease control agencies, agencies within the United Nations system, and others.
The statement said the World Food Programme was using its well-developed logistics to deliver food to the more than one million people locked down in the quarantine zones, where the borders of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone intersect.
It noted that several countries have agreed to support the provision of priority food staples for this population.
It said practical on-the-ground intelligence was the backbone of a co-ordinated response.
The statement said WHO was mapping the outbreak, in great detail, to pinpoint areas of ongoing transmission and locate treatment facilities and supplies.
It said good logistical support depended on knowing which facilities needed disinfectants or personal protective equipment, where new isolation facilities needed to be built, and where the need for more health-care workers was most intense.
The statement said CDC was equipping the hardest-hit countries with computer hardware and software that would soon allow real-time reporting of cases and analysis of trends, stating that this also strengthened the framework for a scaled-up response.
Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, on Thursday held discussions with a group of ambassadors from Geneva’s United Nations missions.
It said the meeting aimed to identify the most urgent needs within countries and match them with rapid international support.
“These steps align with recognition of the extraordinary measures needed, on a massive scale, to contain the outbreak in settings characterised by extreme poverty, dysfunctional health systems, a severe shortage of doctors, and rampant fear,” it stated.