In the latest sign that the outbreak of the virus, which has
already killed at least 1,550 people, is spinning out of control,
the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that Ebola cases rose last
week at the fastest pace since the epidemic began in West Africa in
The epidemic has defied efforts by governments to control it,
prompting the leading charity fighting the outbreak, Medecins Sans
Frontieres (MSF), to call for the U.N. Security Council to take
charge of efforts to stop it.
Including the fatalities, more than 3,000 have been infected since
the virus was detected in the remote jungles of southeastern Guinea
in March and quickly spread across the border to Liberia and Sierra
Leone. It has also touched Nigeria, where six people have died.
Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma dismissed his Health
Minister Miatta Kargbo on Friday over her handling of the epidemic,
which has killed more than 400 people in the former British colony.
Liberia's Information Minister Lewis Brown said that two African
healthcare workers treated with the experimental ZMapp Ebola drug
would be released from hospital on Saturday, after making a full
Scientists on Friday also reported that ZMapp, the drug that last
week cured two American aid workers who contracted the disease in
Liberia, had cured all 18 lab monkeys infected with the virus in
Senegal's first case is a student from Guinea.
Senegalese Health Minister Awa Marie Coll Seck said the man turned
up for treatment at a hospital in the capital Dakar on Tuesday,
concealing the fact that he had had close contact with victims in
his home country.
"We are tracing his whole itinerary and also identifying anyone who
had contact with the patient, who now that he has been diagnosed is
much more cooperative and supplied all the necessary information,"
the minister said.
A Health Ministry official, who asked not to be named, said that the
21-year-old crossed into Senegal via its southern border with Guinea
and had been living in the densely populated Dakar suburb of
Parcelles Assainies for weeks. He added that the man appeared to
have a good chance of recovering.
The man had been under surveillance by health authorities in Guinea
because of his contact with Ebola victims but escaped to Senegal,
Residents in Dakar reacted with anger and concern. "When you are
sick, why do you leave your own country to export the disease to
another?" asked radio host Taib Soce on RFM, a popular station owned
by Senegalese music star Youssou N'dour.
In an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus, Senegal last week
banned flights to and from three of the affected countries and shut
its land border with Guinea.
The country, a regional hub for U.N. agencies and aid groups, has
also refused to give clearance for U.N. aid flights to Ebola-hit
countries in a move that humanitarian workers say is hampering their
ability to respond to the epidemic.
The director of the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
warned on Friday of a "catastrophe" if emergency action were not
taken immediately to reverse the trend of rising cases.
"There is time to avoid a catastrophe but only if immediate and
urgent action is taken at every level," Tom Frieden said in the
Sierra Leone capital Freetown.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday that the actual
number of Ebola cases could be up to four times higher than reported
and said 20,000 people in total could be infected before the
In the remote southeastern Guinean city of Nzerekore, riots broke
out on Thursday night over rumours that health workers had infected
people with Ebola, a Red Cross official and residents said.
The government of Guinea says it has the epidemic under control, but
the number of cases has flared up in southern Guinea, a trend the
government blames on people spilling over the borders from Liberia
and Sierra Leone.
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A crowd of young men, some armed with clubs and knives, set up
barricades across Nzerekore on Thursday and threatened to attack the
hospital before security forces moved in to restore order. Gunshots
were fired and several people were injured, said Youssouf Traore,
president of the Guinean Red Cross.
"A rumour, which was totally false, spread that we had sprayed the
market in order to transmit the virus to locals," Traore said.
"People revolted and resorted to violence, prompting soldiers to
Local Red Cross workers had to flee to the military camp with their
medical equipment. Another resident said the security forces were
preventing people leaving their neighborhoods overnight. More than
400 people have died in Guinea, though the infection rate is slower
than in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The Liberian government said it would end its quarantine of the
oceanfront West Point neighborhood of its capital Monrovia at 0600
GMT on Saturday after residents there cooperated with authorities in
putting in place health checks and public education about the
Soldiers opened fire on angry West Point residents last week when
the quarantine was imposed, following an attack days before on a
holding center for Ebola victims in the teeming district.
The WHO, on Thursday, unveiled a $490 million road map to bring the
outbreak under control over the next nine months.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said it may give more
support to affected countries. "We're working on a financing package
subject to the approval of the IMF Executive Board to help Liberia
along with Guinea and Sierra Leone mitigate any socio-economic
impacts of the epidemic," IMF Liberia representative Charles
Amo-Yartey said on Friday.
In Freetown, a new WHO-backed mobile laboratory opened this week,
speeding up the time needed to test suspected cases.
But often financial pledges have not translated into more clinics
and staff on the ground, said Jorge Castilla, epidemiologist with
the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection
"I've seen many declarations, I see treatment centers on the maps
but I know they are not working," he said in an interview after a
trip to the affected countries.
Suspicion of healthcare workers has dogged government responses to
the Ebola outbreak across West Africa.
Frightened by the sight of healthcare workers clad from head to toe
in plastic protective gear and wearing protective masks, many locals
have shunned their assistance, often preferring to die in their own
So far, more than 120 healthcare workers have died in the epidemic.
Liberia reported five new cases of infection among them in a single
day this week.
(Additional reporting by Emma Farge in Dakar, James Giahyue Harding
in Monrovia and Umaru Fofana in Freetown; Writing by Emma Farge;
Editing by Daniel Flynn and Tom Heneghan)
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