Health

Ebola ‘winning the race’ against attempts to contain it: UNMEER

UNMEER could expect new caseloads of approximately 10,000 people per week by December 1.  



The Ebola outbreak is “winning the race” against attempts to contain it, chief of UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) Anthony Banbury has said.

In his briefing, Mr. Banbury told the 15-nation UN Security Council that he is “deeply worried” that the steps implemented by the international community were “not nearly enough” to halt the advance of the fatal disease.

“Ebola got a head start on us,” he said.

“It is far ahead of us, it is running faster than us, and it is winning the race. We either stop Ebola now or we face an entirely unprecedented situation for which we do not have a plan,” Mr. Banbury told the council on Tuesday via video link from the operation’s headquarters in Ghana.

Mr. Banbury recalled the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation that, within 60 days of October 1, 70 per cent of all those infected must be in the hospital and 70 per cent of the victims safely buried, to arrest the outbreak.

“This is what we are fighting for now; we are fighting to prevent unavoidable deaths. We are fighting for people who are alive and healthy today, but will become infected and die if we do not put in place the necessary emergency response.”

In its most recent situation report on the disease, WHO, which is leading the wider UN response, reported 8,376 cases and 4,024 deaths from Ebola based on information provided by the Ministries of Health of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

The agency notes that the upward epidemic trend continues in Sierra Leone and also in Liberia. By contrast, the situation in Guinea appears to be more stable but a pattern of transmission is still of very grave concern.

“With every day that passes, the number of sick people increases,” Mr. Banbury added.

“Time is our biggest enemy. We must use every minute of every day to our advantage and that is what UNMEER is doing.”

In particular, Mr. Banbury called for an increase in the number of diagnostic laboratories, transport support and funding to help with operation logistics which would help aid the UN response to a crisis so vast in scope and magnitude.

Moreover, with the number of infected growing exponentially each day, he cautioned that UNMEER could expect new caseloads of approximately 10,000 people per week by December 1, meaning that 7,000 beds for treatment were needed.

The UNMEER head pointed out that his mission plan would ultimately ensure that no gaps were left unfilled and that resources were allocated appropriately, all the while permitting Governments to own the Ebola responses in their respective countries.

“There’s much bad news about Ebola but the good news is we know how to stop it,” said Mr. Banbury, while emphasising that failure was “inconceivable” and “unacceptable.”

“We must defeat Ebola and we must do it fast,” he said.

A United Nations volunteer who worked in the UN mission in Liberia’s medical team and was evacuated to Germany last week to receive treatment for Ebola has died. This is the second death at UN Mission in Liberia due to Ebola, after an earlier probable case that resulted in the death of a national staff member on September 25.


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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 2:17:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/ebola-winning-the-race-against-attempts-to-contain-it-unmeer/article6502936.ece

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