The WHO warns that the Zika virus is likely to spread across the Americas. The virus has already been found in 21 countries in the Caribbean, North and South America. No treatment or vaccine is available. The virus is spread through the Aedes mosquito. This mosquito is found throughout the Americas with the exceptions of Canada and Chile. 80% of infections do not show symptoms, but there seems to be a link between the virus and impaired fetal development.
Liberia passes two 21-day incubation cycles with no new Ebola cases, passing the threshold for declaring the country’s epidemic to be over. This has led the WHO to declare West Africa’s Ebola epidemic to be over as well, although the organization cautions that the region may still see flare-ups. Ebola killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa during the epidemic, which began in late 2013. WHO chief Chan:
So much was needed and so much was accomplished by national authorities, heroic health workers, civil society, local and international organizations and generous partners.
Ebola returns to Liberia with five recent cases of the disease. Sequencing data show the virus is genetically similar to the past Ebola outbreak. WHO conducts further tests to see if people unknowingly had the virus and explores other possibilities such as sexual transmission.
There are a considerable number of survivors. And we also know that it persists in certain bodily fluids, and that it can subsist for at least six months.
A 28 page report by a panel led by Dame Stocking says the World Health Organisation unable to handle public health emergencies judging from its performance in the Ebola epidemic. The report suggests fault in WHO’s financial preparedness, reliance on diplomacy, and lack of decisive actions by director general Chan. Furthermore, the report recommends regional and country representatives to play a more active role in pushing their governments to take immediate action to epidemics; this is in response to WHO’s delayed declaration of an Ebola crisis only after the death of 1,000 people.
WHO does not currently possess the capacity or organisational culture to deliver a full emergency public health response.
WHO accepts the report’s criticism and prepares improvements to its workforce and financial reserves. Medecins Sans Frontieres Dr. Liu:
The question is how will this translate into real action on the ground in future outbreaks?
The WHO issues new guidelines for healthcare workers specifying that protective equipment should be worn to protect the mouth, nose and eyes from contaminated droplets and fluids. WHO:
These guidelines hold an important role in clarifying effective personal protective equipment options that protect the safety of healthcare workers and patients from Ebola virus disease transmission.
Reports say the reputation of the WHO is being damaged after the organization is faulted for foot-dragging and misjudgements, while Big Pharma, the West’s aid policies in Africa, and public faith in the industrialized world’s health systems are also questioned. Commentary in The Lancet:
Failures in leadership have allowed a preventable disease to spin out of control, with vast harms to social order and human dignity
The World Health Organization announces the true Ebola death toll may be three times more. Higher numbers place Guinea with a factor of 1.5, Sierra Leone at 2.0 and Liberia at 2.5. This suggests a true total of approximately 15,000 deaths versus a minimum of 4,877. At least 9,936 cases report infection. Of the thousands of cases, 443 health workers contract the disease resulting in 244 deaths. Official:
Early indications are that a substantial proportion of infections occurred outside the context of Ebola treatment and care.
The WHO says 42 days have passed since the last case tested negative. Coun try director Rui Gama Vaz:
The outbreak in Nigeria has been contained
Top U.S. government health officials from the CDC issue an update of strict guidelines informing American health workers to cover both skin and hair when caring for Ebola patients. The guidelines are a reaction to previous incidents where some health workers also became Ebola patients themselves. Fauci:
I don’t want to officially comment on what is being developed, but pretty soon we are going to be seeing new guidelines that, at least I can tell you, they are going to be much more stringent.
The old guidelines derive from the World Health Organization having skin exposure problems. Fauci:
We want to make sure that that’s no longer the case. That you have essentially everything covered.
The global body says deaths have risen to 4,447, and there have been 8,914 cases overall. It says total cases are expected to rise above 9,000 by the end of the week. The WHO estimates figures by taking the numbers of confirmed cases and multiplying them to account for under-reporting. It multiplies figures from Guinea by 1.5, from Sierra Leone by 2 and from Liberia by 2.5.
The global body says 70% of patients need to be placed in care facilities by Christmas, without infecting others, and 70% of those who have died from the virus must be buried. UN deputy Ebola coordinator Anthony Banbury:
We need to do that within 60 days from 1 October. If we reach these targets then we can turn this epidemic around. We either stop ebola now or we face an entirely unprecedented situation for which we do not have a plan.
WHO assistant director-general Dr. Bruce Aylward says in Geneva that the new rate confirms Ebola is ‘a high mortality disease.’ Previously, the WHO had estimated the death rate around 50%.
WHO assistant director-general Dr. Bruce Aylward gives the figure at a press conference in Geneva. He outlines what will happen if the global response isn’t stepped up within 60 days:
A lot more people will die
Director General Margaret Chan warns that 90% of the economic costs of any outbreak stem from…
irrational and disorganized efforts of the public to avoid infection.
She adds that the treatment of patients spotlights growing global inequalities:
The outbreak spotlights the dangers of the world’s growing social and economic inequalities. The rich get the best care. The poor are left to die.
The WHO warns that the virus is ‘the most severe acute health emergency in modern times.’ Director-General Margaret Chan:
I have never seen a health event threaten the very survival of societies and governments in already very poor countries. I have never seen an infectious disease contribute so strongly to potential state failure.
The UN body says practices like rubbing a patient’s body with limes and onions or drinking saltwater are ineffective against the virus, and warns against fake vaccines and cures.
Decades of scientific research have failed to find a curative or preventive agent of proven safety and effectiveness in humans, though a number of promising products are currently under development. All rumours of any other effective products or practices are false. Their use can be dangerous. In Nigeria, for example, at least two people have died after drinking salt water, rumoured to be protective.