The World Health Organization is predicting thousands of new Ebola cases in Liberia this month, explaining that the virus is growing exponentially.
The WHO explained in a statement, “Transmission of the Ebola virus in Liberia is already intense and the number of new cases is increasing exponentially.”
The organization told Reuters that motorbike-taxis and regular taxis are “a hot source of potential virus transmission” because they are not disinfected between customers. Liberia’s conventional Ebola control measures “are not having an adequate impact.”
Fourteen of Liberia’s 15 counties have reported confirmed cases, and every new Ebola treatment center overflows with patients as soon as it opens. The WHO explained Monday that the influx to new treatment centers points “to a large but previously invisible case load.”
Of the countries with confirmed Ebola cases, Liberia has seen the highest toll. The disease has killed 1,089 people among 1,871 cases. Overall, Ebola has killed 2,097 people in 3,944 cases in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Another 18 cases and seven deaths were reported in Nigeria, while one non-fatal case was confirmed in Senegal.
ABC News notes that the WHO predicted, “Many thousands of new cases are expected in Liberia over the coming three weeks.” The outbreak has taken a particularly harsh toll on health workers. The WHO confirmed Monday that one of its doctors working in Sierra Leone tested positive for the disease.
In response to the new Ebola cases, U.S. President Barack Obama announced Sunday that the military will set up isolation units and provide security for public health workers battling the outbreak. Once it is set up, a 25-bed field hospital in Monrovia will be used to treat health care workers. There is no plan to staff the center with U.S. soldiers.
Liberia welcomed the help from the United States. Information Minister Lewis Brown stated, “This is not Liberia’s particular fight; it is a fight that the international community must engage very, very seriously and bring all possible resources to bear.”
Britain is also helping out by setting up a 62-bed treatment center in Sierra Leone in the next few weeks. That facility will be operated by military engineers and medical staff, helped by the charity Save the Children. There will be a special section for treating health care workers, offering them high-quality care.
There are currently about 570 beds in Ebola treatment centers in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Nearly 1,000 more are needed, according to the WHO. While the announcements will help, much more is needed to combat the new Ebola cases in west Africa.
[Image: The Huffington Post]