Ebola: Cases double in a week in DRC, Sierra Leone hands out soap

2014-09-12 08:36

Geneva – The number of suspected and confirmed Ebola infections in the Democratic Republic of Congo has doubled to 62 within a week, the World Health Organisation said.

Only one additional death was recorded between September 2 and September 9, bringing the toll to 35, the United Nations health agency said yesterday, citing the latest available figures provided by the government of the Central African country.

The outbreak in DRC has occurred independently of the one in West Africa and involves a different virus strain. The organisation said that the government of DRC has launched a robust response to counter the outbreak.

Meanwhile, Sierra Leone’s government was planning to distribute 1.5 million bars of soap to help curb the epidemic that has killed almost 2 300 people in West Africa.

About 21 000 health workers and volunteers are set to hand out the soap to Sierra Leone’s 6 million citizens next week, said emergency operations centre director Stephen Ngauja.

The door-to-door campaign will also be instrumental in educating the population about the virus and the importance of washing one’s hands to reduce the risk of transmission, Ngauja added.

Also yesterday, Sierra Leone announced it would close the border between its southern Pujehun District and Liberia, which is crossed daily by hundreds of people, mostly traders.

The border closure was “a necessary precautionary measure,” because Liberia accounts for about half of all Ebola deaths, said parliamentarian Sidi Yaya Tunis.

Ebola causes massive haemorrhaging and has a fatality rate of up to 90%.

The disease is transmitted through contact with blood and other bodily fluids and has been particularly difficult to fight in some West African countries, where hospital and diagnostic capacities have been overwhelmed.

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