Ebola death toll passes 1,900, says WHO

Onyebuchi Chukwu
  • Seven deaths confirmed in Nigeria
Onyebuchi Chukwu
Onyebuchi Chukwu

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says more than 1,900 people have now died in West Africa’s Ebola outbreak.

WHO head Margaret Chan said there were 3,500 confirmed or probable cases in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

“The outbreaks are racing ahead of the control efforts in these countries,” she said.

On Thursday the WHO is holding a meeting to examine the most promising treatments and to discuss how to fast track their testing and production.

Disease control experts, medical researchers, officials from affected countries, and specialists in medical ethics will all be represented at the meeting in Geneva.

The WHO has previously warned that more than 20,000 people could be infected before the outbreak of the virus is brought under control.

Ms Chan described the outbreak as “the largest and most severe and most complex we have ever seen”.

“No one, even outbreak responders with experience dating back to 1976, to 1995, people that were directly involved with those outbreaks, none of them have ever seen anything like it,” she said.

Forty per cent of the deaths have occurred in three weeks leading up to September 3, the WHO says.

Nigeria on Wednesday reported two further cases in the city of Port Harcourt.

There had previously only been one case outside the city of Lagos, where five people have died from the virus.

“The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Port Harcourt has the potential to grow larger and spread faster than the one in Lagos,” the WHO warned.

Giving an update on the virus in Abuja on Wednesday, Nigeria’s Minister of Helth, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu,  said the total number of confirmed death in Nigeria is seven from a total of 18 cases.

According to him, the eighteenth confirmed case is a sister of the late Port Harcourt doctor, Ikechukwu Enemuo, who secretly treated a diplomat, one of the primary contacts of the index case in a hotel.

He said further that “The total number of cases successfully managed and discharged is now eight. The last case to be discharged, the first secondary contact to be diagnosed and a spouse of a primary contact of the index case, went home from the isolation ward in Lagos yesterday.

“The ninth survivor is the ECOWAS Commission official who jumped surveillance in Lagos and travelled to Port Harcourt where he infected the doctor who attended to him.

“Total number of deaths from Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria is now seven (7). One (1), the index case, occurred in a private hospital in Lagos, four (4) in the Lagos isolation ward, one (1) in the Port Harcourt isolation ward (the female patient who was on admission in the same hospital where the late Port Harcourt doctor was also admitted), while another one (1) was the doctor who was infected by the ECOWAS Commission official in Port Harcourt and who did not come under the care and management of the Incident Management Committee.

“Total number of EVD patients currently under treatment is two (2), one in the Lagos isolation ward and another one (1) in the Port Harcourt isolation ward.

“Total number of contacts currently under surveillance in Lagos is forty one (41), while Port Harcourt has two hundred and fifty five (255).

“Total number of contacts discharged in Lagos after they were observed for 21 days is 320.

Chukwu debunked rumours of EVD cases outside Lagos and Port Harcourt.

“These include the three (3) reported cases in the Federal Capital Territory and one case in Calabar”.

The minister further debunked the story that the body of the late Port Harcourt doctor was transported to Edo or Delta State, saying the body has been decontaminated and will be interred in Port Harcourt.

Regarding the reported case in Zaria, Kaduna State, Prof Chukwu said the blood sample has been sent for testing.