W.H.O. fears catastrophy if Ebola gets out of control
$100 million action planThe leaders of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea used the summit to launch a $100 million (75 million euro) action plan that will see several hundred more medical staff deployed to battle the epidemic. The three countries will also bolster efforts to prevent and detect suspected cases, urge better border surveillance, and reinforce the WHO’s sub-regional outbreak coordination centre in Guinea. Darab did not outline the exact area to be part of the isolation zone, but the epicentre of the outbreak has a diameter of almost 300 kilometres (185 miles), spreading from Kenema in eastern Sierra Leone to Macenta in southern Guinea, and taking in most of Liberia’s extreme northern forests. “The healthcare services in these zones will be strengthened for treatment, testing and contact tracing to be carried out effectively,” she said. The meeting came after Dubai’s Emirates became the first global airline to announce it was suspending flights to the stricken area, while the United States, Germany, France and Italy have issued warnings against travel to the three African countries. US President Barack Obama announced on Friday that the United States would screen delegates travelling from Ebola-hit countries to Washington for a three-day Africa summit next week.
State of emergencySierra Leone’s leader Ernest Bai Koroma has announced a state of emergency, quarantining Ebola-hit areas and cancelling foreign trips by ministers, while Liberia has closed all of its schools and put government workers on leave. Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf warned ahead of the summit that the crisis was “nearing a catastrophe” and appealed for more doctors and supplies. Ebola, which has no vaccine, causes severe muscular pain, fever, headaches and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding. It has killed around two-thirds of those it has infected since its emergence in 1976, with two outbreaks registering fatality rates approaching 90 percent. The death rate in the current outbreak is a lower-than-average 55 percent. Fears that it could spread to other continents through air travel have been growing, with European and Asian countries on alert alongside African countries outside the Ebola crisis zone. In Britain, Sierra Leone cyclist Moses Sesay was quarantined and tested for Ebola at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, before being given the all-clear, the athlete told a British newspaper. Kenya, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Benin said they had enhanced screening at border points and airports. Pan-African airlines Arik and ASKY have halted flights to and from Liberia and Sierra Leone, while Asia-Pacific nations from Hong Kong to Australia have announced tighter security measures at airports, some warning against travel to the Ebola-hit countries.