Originally published September 27 2014
Over 700 new Ebola cases confirmed in one week as outbreak explodes
by Jonathan Benson, staff writer
(NaturalNews) The rate at which Ebola is spreading is rapidly accelerating, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), with more than 700 new cases of the deadly disease reported in a single week. Reports indicate that there are now more than 5,800 documented cases of Ebola, along with 2,800 confirmed deaths, in what is being widely proclaimed as the worst Ebola outbreak in history.
Earlier data showed that Ebola was infecting about 500 people weekly, suggesting that the infection rate has increased by 40 percent in just three weeks. Based on this trajectory, many experts foresee exponential spread in the coming months, especially if Ebola hops the boundaries of West Africa and goes global.
The United Nations Security Council recently declared the outbreak as a "threat to international peace and security," calling on all nations to provide resources and other aid in order to contain it. In Sierra Leone, where the outbreak is hitting hardest, residents were told to stay home for three days during a nationwide lockdown aimed at getting things under control.
Lockdowns are ineffectiveDespite the best of intentions, the lockdown probably hasn't done much to contain Ebola, however. A former director from the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF), who is quite familiar with how disease spreads in West Africa, told reporters that the idea of containing Ebola with a lockdown is "highly unrealistic."
In an official statement, MSF, a French organization whose acronym is derived from the name "Medecins Sans Frontieres," explained that forced quarantines and lockdowns are "driving people underground and jeopardizing the trust between people and health providers." The group emphasized that locals will only seek to conceal the sick and dying rather than come forward, which could make the problem much worse.
Sierra Leone information minister Alhaji Alpha Kanu disagrees, having told the media that the purpose of the sweep was to educate the community about Ebola transmission. He also tried to mitigate use of the word lockdown to describe the effort, instead calling it a "sensitization."
"Resistance will be less," he stated about the door-to-door initiative. "They will be talking to people they know," he added, referring to the roughly 30,000 volunteers who engaged the nation's more than 4 million residents.
WHO says travel restrictions aren't necessary, encourages people to travel freely to outbreak countries Meanwhile, WHO says that people should continue traveling to and from the affected countries. If travel is shut down as proposed, claims the UN group, it will have a detrimental effect on the economic stability of the countries involved. WHO also claims that shutting down travel will increase the risk of "further international spread."
"Flight cancellations and other travel restrictions continue to isolate affected countries, resulting in detrimental economic consequences, and hinder relief and response efforts risking further international spread," reads a statement issued by a WHO committee of about 20 experts, headed by Director-General Margaret Chan.
Of the five countries where Ebola has been spotted, two -- Nigeria and Senegal -- have reportedly been successful in their efforts to stop its spread.
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