World


56 more Ebola deaths as West Africa awaits drugs


This handout photo taken on August 13, 2014 and released by Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows officials taking part in an exercise at Taoyuan airport outside Taipei, simulating the arrival and isolation of a tourist suspected of carrying the deadly Ebola virus. Photo: AFP/Centers for Disease Control

Geneva/Ottawa/Abuja/Freetown: The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday reported 128 new Ebola cases and 56 deaths in West Africa in the two days to August 11, raising the death toll from the worst ever outbreak of the disease to 1,069.

Since the outbreak was identified in March, there have been a total of 1,975 confirmed, probable and suspected Ebola cases in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, the United Nations health agency said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Health Minister Rona Ambrose said Ottawa would distribute between 800 to 1,000 doses through WHO where it is needed.

The Canadian government, Ambrose said, "is committed to doing everything we can to support our international partners, including providing staff to assist with the outbreak response, funding and access to our experimental vaccine."

The VSV-EBOV vaccine was developed at Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

It has never been tested in humans, but has shown promise in animal research, according to the government, which licensed BioProtection Systems to further develop the product for use in humans. The epidemic, the worst since Ebola was first discovered four decades ago, has killed more than 1,000 people since early this year, according to the World Health Organisation.

No cure or vaccine
There is currently no available cure or vaccine for Ebola, which the WHO has declared a global public health emergency.

To combat its spread, the WHO has authorised the use of experimental drugs. A US company that makes and experimental serum called ZMApp said on Tuesday it had sent all its available supply to hard-hit West Africa.

Two US missionary workers with Ebola who were repatriated from Monrovia are being treated with the drug at an isolation unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.

A 75-year-old Spanish priest was also treated with ZMapp after contracting Ebola in the Liberian capital Monrovia where he worked with infected patients.

He died in a Madrid hospital on Tuesday. Furthermore, a nurse who had close contact with a Liberian

Ebola patient skipped quarantine in Lagos and went to her home in the eastern city of Enugu, where she made contact with 20 other people, the government said yesterday.

Information Minister Labaran Maku said the nurse, herself a suspected case, and her 20 contacts were all under surveillance in Enugu, bringing the total number being watched in Nigeria to 189.

Sierra Leone doctor dies
Additionally, a second Sierra Leon doctor has died after contracting the deadly Ebola virus, health officials said.

Dr Modupeh Cole, a senior physician at the Connaught Hospital in Freetown, was diagnosed with Ebola last Friday and taken to the specialist Kailahun Treatment Centre the following day.

His death was confirmed by the country's chief medical officer, Dr Brima Kargbo.

"We are all very, very saddened," he said. Dr Cole was a "very powerful presence in the country's medical team and has been very instrumental in the fight against the Ebola virus."

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