Liberia and Sierra Leone have updated the number of Ebola illnesses and Ebola-related deaths in those countries with recent press releases. Through Sept. 9, Sierra Leone announced that there have been 1,443 Ebola cases and 481 deaths. Liberia is reporting, through Sept. 8 a total of 2,192 Ebola illnesses and 1,223 deaths. Both numbers include suspected, probable and laboratory confirmed cases since the outbreak began in March.
The combined totals for the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, affecting five countries, are 4,521 suspected, probable and confirmed cases. The death toll is 2,267. These total combine local government reports from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria with the World Health Organization (WHO) Ebola situation report from Sept. 8.
In Senegal, Reuters is reporting that the single confirmed Ebola patient in that nation has recovered from his illness. In August, a student from Guinea was diagnosed with Ebola in Senegal. Authorities have been monitoring 67 people who had contact with this patient. The Sept. 8 WHO report states that there are two additional suspected cases in that country.
The latest report from Nigeria is a statement from Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, the Minister of Health, on Sept. 8. Ebola was brought to Nigeria by Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian government functionary, who traveled to Lagos from Monrovia despite being symptomatic with Ebola. Chukwu stated that the confirmed number of Ebola cases in Nigeria is 19. There have been seven Ebola deaths.
The Sept. 8 WHO report adds one probable and one suspected Ebola illness to Nigeria’s total and one probable Ebola death. The center of the Nigerian outbreak has shifted to Port Harcourt, on the southeast coast. There are fears that the small number of cases at this time may grow as hundreds of contacts of a local physician are monitored. The doctor treated an Ebola patient, contracted the illness, and continued to see patients and even perform surgery while symptomatic.
The situation in Liberia is particularly dire. The Liberian Minister of Defense addressed the U.N. Security Council on Sept. 9. Brownie Samukai described the Ebola epidemic as a “serious threat” to Liberia’s national existence, the BBC reported Sept. 10.
The Voice of America (VOA) is reporting that WHO has told treatment centers and hospitals around Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, that they must triple the number of beds available to treat Ebola patients. At least 1,000 beds are needed at this time.
VOA describes a scene outside one of the treatment centers. A taxi sat, abandoned by its driver, while a sick woman vomited in the back. Her only assistance was a sister, wearing gloves for some protection. Other sick people waited, in parked cars, for a spot to open in the clinic. A clinic guard said that many die, waiting in cars for treatment.
The WHO notes, in a Sept. 8 assessment of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia that “taxis filled with entire families, of whom some members are thought to be infected with the Ebola virus, crisscross the city, searching for a treatment bed. There are none.” These families then return to their homes, exposed to Ebola, and exposing others on their return. The WHO notes that taxis are a “hot source of potential Ebola virus transmission” since they are not disinfected after such trips. New passengers are exposed to Ebola with no warning.