Sun, Aug 31, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Senegal fifth west African nation hit by Ebola virus

RAPID INCREASE:The WHO said the crisis could cost at least US$490 million to tackle and the number of cases could exceed 20,000 before the epidemic ends

AFP, DAKAR

Health workers wearing protective suits conduct an Ebola prevention drill at a dock in Monrovia, Liberia, on Friday, as Senegal became the fifth nation in the region to be hit by the virus.

Photo: AFP

The Ebola epidemic, which has killed more than 1,500 people across west Africa, spread to a fifth country in the region on Friday with the first confirmed case of the deadly virus in Senegal.

The case marks the first time a new country has been hit by the outbreak since last month and comes a day after the WHO warned that the number of infections was increasing rapidly.

The Senegalese Ministry of Health said the country’s first Ebola patient was a young Guinean man who was immediately quarantined at a Dakar hospital, where he was in a “satisfactory condition.”

The man is believed to have been infected in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, and may have traveled to Senegal before Dakar closed its land border with Guinea on Aug. 21.

Authorities are now scrabbling to piece together where he went and who he encountered, in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.

New figures released by the WHO on Thursday revealed the massive scale of the crisis, which it said indicated a “rapid increase still in the intensity of transmission” that could cost at least US$490 million to tackle.

In a sign that affected countries are struggling to stop its spread, the UN agency said the number of cases could exceed 20,000 before the epidemic is brought under control.

Never before has there been an Ebola outbreak so large, nor has the virus — which was first detected in 1976 — ever infected people in west Africa until now. As of Tuesday, 1,552 people had been confirmed dead from Ebola in four countries — Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria.

Liberia was the worst affected with 694 deaths, while 422 people have died in Sierra Leone and 430 in Guinea, where the virus emerged at the start of the year. Nigeria has now recorded six deaths.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has also confirmed two cases of Ebola, but officials there insist it is unconnected to the outbreak in west Africa.

Sierra Leonean President Ernest Koroma on Friday sacked Sierra Leonean Minister of Health Miatta Kargbo.

A presidential statement read on state television said the decision was made “to create a conducive environment for more efficient and effective handling of the Ebola outbreak.”

Nigeria’s latest death — in the southeastern oil city of Port Harcourt — was the first outside its biggest city, Lagos, and dashed hopes that the country had successfully contained the virus.

The person who died, a doctor named Ikyke Samuel Enuemo, is believed to have caught the virus from a patient he treated who traveled to the city after coming into contact with an infected Liberian-US man.

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