[QODLink]
Africa

WHO warns of W Africa's Ebola 'shadow zones'

Outbreak may be worse than thought as aid workers blocked from some areas and families hide the infected.

Last updated: 22 Aug 2014 23:46
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
David Nabarro of the UN says WHO has a new plan to fight Ebola [Reuters]

Families hiding infected loved ones and the existence of "shadow zones" where medics cannot go mean the West African Ebola epidemic is even bigger than thought, the World Health Organisation has said.

Some 1,427 people have died among 2,615 known cases of the deadly virus in West Africa since the outbreak was first identified in March, according to new figures released by the WHO on Friday.

Others deny that a patient has Ebola and believe that care in an isolation ward - viewed as an incubator of the disease - will lead to infection and certain death.

WHO

Under-reporting of cases is a problem especially in Liberia and Sierra Leone, currently the two countries hardest hit.

"As Ebola has no cure, some believe infected loved ones will be more comfortable dying at home," the WHO said in a statement detailing why the outbreak had been underestimated.

"Others deny that a patient has Ebola and believe that care in an isolation ward - viewed as an incubator of the disease - will lead to infection and certain death."

Corpses are often buried without official notification. And there are "shadow zones", rural areas where there are rumours of cases and deaths that cannot be investigated because of community resistance or lack of staff and transport.

The WHO said it is now working with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to produce "more realistic estimates".

On Friday, the WHO said it had drawn up a draft strategy plan to combat the disease in West Africa, and details would be released early next week.

David Nabarro, Senior United Nations System Coordinator for Ebola, who was travelling with the WHO's Fukuda in Liberia, said the strategy would involve ramping up the number of health workers fighting the disease.

"It means more doctors, Liberian doctors, more nurses, Liberian nurses, and more equipment," he said. "But it also means, of course, more international staff."

Ballooning numbers

Despite initial assertions by regional health officials that the virus had been contained in its early stages, Ebola case numbers and deaths have ballooned in recent months as the outbreak has spread from its initial epicentre in Guinea.

"We think six to nine months is a reasonable estimate," Keiji Fukuda, the WHO's Assistant Director-General for Health Security, said during a visit to Liberia, speaking of the time the agency now believes will be required to halt the epidemic.

An Ebola outbreak will be declared over in a country if two incubation periods, or 42 days in total, have passed without any confirmed case, a WHO spokesperson said.

470

Source:
Reuters
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.