(NaturalNews) Without a sound medical solution to the worst outbreak of Ebola in the history of the planet, governments and non-governmental organizations are turning to a medieval technique that could affect as many as 1 million people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
As reported by WorldNetDaily (WND), the tactic, which was popularized during the era of the Black Death plague in the 14th century, is known as cordon sanitaire, which is essentially drawing a line around a geographic area where the infections are occurring, letting no one exit -- a quarantine.
It hasn't been used since the end of World War I.
Discussions to quarantine a triangular area that includes parts of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia occurred as early as Aug. 1, WND reported, adding that troops began to close roads several days later, in a bid to prevent spread of the deadly virus.
WHO is supporting the quarantine; Dr. Margaret Chan, the organization's director-general, said during a briefing in Geneva that the decisions "to seal off the hot zone of disease transmission, that is, the area where the borders of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone intersect, are critical for stopping the re-infection of areas via the cross-border movement of people."
The UN agency admits, however, that sealing off the disease zone cannot be done without consequences, with more than 1 million people affected who "need daily material support, including food."
"The isolation of this zone has made it even more difficult for agencies, like Doctors Without Borders, to bring in staff and supplies," WHO said.
'We don't live in that era anymore'
As WND further reported:
There is also the question of how to manage doctors and health workers trying to save patients' lives. Would they be trapped along with the rest of the population or allowed to leave, potentially carrying with them a life-threatening disease? Or should the affected population be left to its own?
In ancient times, the cordon sanitaire was used as a last-ditch effort to contain a disease, and the citizens of the trapped area were usually left to their own devices. While in this case the WHO has committed to provide food to the million people affected by the quarantine, there is little else it can do.
As WND earlier reported, though WHO has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola, there are few if any readily available supplies, which will make the disease untreatable at least in the short term. More than half of those infected die.
Dr. Martin S. Cetron, a quarantine expert for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, says he hopes that the cordon will prove effective. However, he did say there is "a lot of potential for it to go poorly if it's not done with an ethical approach."
"Just letting the disease burn out and considering that the price of controlling it -- we don't live in that era anymore," he said.
'Vastly underestimated the magnitude of the outbreak'
Earlier this month, WHO announced on its website that it was "coordinating a massive scaling up of the international response, marshalling support from individual countries, disease control agencies, agencies within the United Nations system, and others," all in an effort to provide the "extraordinary measures needed, on a massive scale, to contain the outbreak in settings characterized by extreme poverty, dysfunctional health systems, a severe shortage of doctors, and rampant fear."
WHO officials also said the numbers of reported cases and deaths "vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak."
That indicates that the UN believes that the current epidemic is far more dangerous than initially thought and as such is now throwing its full support into the WHO's containment strategy.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has also chaired a system-wide meeting in which he emphasized a need for the entire UN system to support the WHO's efforts in combating the outbreak.
Chan has also warned that any country with an international airport is at risk of having Ebola spread there.