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Liberia declares Ebola emergency

A man washes his hands in an attempt to stop the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia's capital Monrovia on Wednesday. Liberia's President has declared a state of emergency over the viral outbreak.   | Photo Credit: Abbas Dulleh

Liberia’s President has declared a state of emergency in the West African nation amid an Ebola outbreak that shows no signs of slowing.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made the announcement on national television late Wednesday, saying that some civil rights may have to be suspended as a result of the crisis.

Observers say the crisis in Liberia has deepened because many people are choosing to keep their ill relatives at home instead of bringing them to isolation centres.

The disease that has killed at least 282 people in Liberia alone is spread through contact with the bodily fluids of Ebola patients showing symptoms.

 

In her speech, Ms. Sirleaf said that “ignorance and poverty, as well as entrenched religious and cultural practices, continue to exacerbate the spread of the disease”.

Nigeria rushes to get isolation tents

Nigerian authorities rushed to obtain isolation tents on Wednesday in anticipation of more Ebola infections as they disclosed five more cases of the virus and a death in Africa’s most populous nation, where officials were racing to keep the gruesome disease confined to a small group of patients.

The five new Nigerian cases were all in Lagos, a megacity of 21 million people in a country already beset with poor health care infrastructure and widespread corruption, and all five were reported to have had direct contact with one infected man.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation began a meeting to decide whether the crisis, the worst recorded outbreak of its kind, amounts to an international public health emergency. At least 932 deaths in four countries have been blamed on the illness, with 1,711 reported cases.

In recent years, the WHO has declared an emergency only twice, for swine flu in 2009 and polio in May. The declaration would probably come with recommendations on travel and trade restrictions and wider Ebola screening. It also would be an acknowledgment that the situation is critical and could worsen without a fast global response.

The group did not immediately confirm the new cases reported in Nigeria. And Nigerian authorities did not release any details on the latest infections, except to say they all had come into direct contact with the sick man who arrived by plane in Lagos late last month.

And in Sierra Leone, where enforcing quarantines of sick patients also has been met with resistance, some 750 soldiers deployed to the Ebola-ravaged east as part of “Operation Octopus”.

Nigeria is the fourth West African country to be hit by the Ebola outbreak since it first emerged in March in the remote tropical forests of Guinea. The disease then spread to neighbouring Sierra Leona and Liberia before reaching Nigeria, where it surfaced shortly before the government drew criticism for its response to the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls by Islamic militants back in April. The girls are still missing.

Also on Wednesday, the Spanish Defence Ministry said a medically equipped plane was ready to fly to Liberia to bring back a Spanish missionary priest who has Ebola. At the same time, Saudi officials reported a suspected Ebola death, underscoring the risk of the disease spreading by air travel even as many airlines curtail their flights to the most infected cities.

New York hospital patient tests negative

In New York, a man who appeared at a city’s hospital with a high fever and gastrointestinal symptoms after a visit to West Africa has tested negative for the Ebola virus, health officials said on Wednesday.

The man, who recently travelled to a country where Ebola has been reported, has been kept in isolation since he arrived at Mount Sinai Hospital early Monday. He was in stable condition and was improving, said the hospital, which didn’t disclose what illness he has.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said six people in the United States, including the New York patient, have been tested for Ebola since the West African outbreak erupted this year and all results were negative.

Officials at U.S. airports are watching travellers from Africa for flu-like symptoms that could be tied to the recent Ebola outbreak there.

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2020 5:11:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/ebola-outbreak-liberia-declares-emergency/article6290185.ece

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