Faced with the scale of the Ebola threat, experts are insisting that the collective resources to counter the epidemic are unacceptable.
The virus has claimed more lives so far this year than in all previous outbreaks combined — since Ebola was discovered four decades ago.
The speed of its spread in West Africa places the safety of air travel there in question. Yet, if the corridors were closed, how then to bring help?
The World Health Organisation predicts the continued propagation of Ebola.
WHO Assistant Director-general Bruce Aylward said: “There’s a specific goal and time line. Very clearly, we’re all on the same page: the goal is to stop transmission in the affected countries within eight to nine months.”
The epidemic was detected in Guinea in March, although its death toll — in the hundreds — has not been the highest. Liberia has had the most cases and victims. The number of cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been climbing alarmingly, and in Nigeria as well. Senegal is the latest to be hit. The total number of reported deaths is around 1,600.
There is no known cure for Ebola — or proven treatment. Vaccines are in the test stage. Meanwhile, patients suffer high fever, terrible headache and muscle pain, diarrhoea and vomiting and dehydration.
According to US media, five African medical personnel fell victim while working on a Harvard-based study, published online on Aug. 28 in the journal Science, which confirmed that this strain is able to mutate; they died.
Doctor Peter Piot co-discovered the Ebola virus in Zaire in 1976. Now Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Piot said: “When you think of a disease that has an up to 90 percent fatality rate, compassionate use of experimental drugs is absolutely justified, ethically. Secondly, we need to make sure that this is the last outbreak of Ebola where all we have is isolation, quarantine, and some supportive care.”
Recent video from the disease zone shows a man who had been in quarantine in a Liberian village and who left it to seek food, refusing to return to medical monitoring. Alarmed locals hung back while authorities overpowered the man by force.