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Ebola Infections on the Rise Again in West Africa

In total, 22,460 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola have been reported in the three most affected countries – Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, according to figures released by the United Nations on February 5. A total of 822 confirmed health worker infections have also been reported in these countries.

The weekly case incidence has increased in all three countries for the first time this year. There were 124 new confirmed cases reported in the week to February 1: 39 in Guinea, 5 in Liberia and 80 in Sierra Leone, compared to 30, 4 and 65, for the week to January 25. The case fatality rate among hospitalized cases (calculated from all confirmed and probable hospitalized cases with a reported definitive outcome) is between 50 percent and 61 percent in the three most affected countries.

Continued community resistance, increasing geographical spread in Guinea and widespread transmission in Sierra Leone, and a rise in incidence show the Ebola response still faces significant challenges. A total of 10 of 34 prefectures in Guinea reported at least one security incident or other form of refusal to cooperate in the week to February 1. Three districts in Sierra Leone reported at least one similar incident during the week to 27 January. No counties in Liberia reported security incidents or refusals to cooperate.

As the wet season approaches, there is an urgent need to end the outbreak in as wide an area as possible, especially in remote areas that will become more difficult to access.

On February 4 in Guinea, the United Nations Ebola mission received a request for the provision of 17 vehicles from the National Ebola Response Center Coordinator. The Coordinator noted the vehicles would augment national response efforts in 17 priority prefectures where Ebola remains an active concern and those in border areas.

A UN report from February 4 indicated some people could be fleeing the recent Ebola flare-up in Lola, Guinea. Local authorities as well as health staff have increased vigilance to help prevent the spread of potentially infected people into other regions and across the border.

The recent surge comes as a blow to the affected countries and aid organizations following a period of decline in reported cases.

“There is most definitely a fantastic combined community, national and international effort that has turned this crisis around,” said John Ging, director of Operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. “But there is no room for complacency. The last mile is the hardest mile. We must stay the course. While remarkable progress has been made, we must not forget that it only takes one new case to start a new outbreak.”

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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