The WHO said in the week to February 15, a total of 128 new confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) were reported in the three Ebola endemic countries in West Africa – Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
According to the WHO Ebola Situation report, which was made available to the Ghana News Agency on Thursday, Guinea reported 52 new confirmed cases – a decrease from the previous week, and the first week-to-week decline since January 25.
It said transmission remains widespread in Sierra Leone, with 74 new confirmed cases, and was most intense in the capital, Freetown, which reported 45 confirmed cases; stating that, Liberia reported two new confirmed cases in the four days to February 12.
The report said engaging effectively with communities had been one of the keys to successfully driving cases to zero in many parts of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, but continues to present a challenge in several areas.
It said each of the three countries reported an increase in security incidents related to the Ebola response compared with the previous week.
According to it, in Guinea and Sierra Leone, 39 and 45 unsafe burials were reported, respectively, in the week to February 15, and over 40 new confirmed cases were identified only when testing was carried out on samples from individuals after they died in the community, away from treatment facilities.
It said not only had these individuals not received potentially life-saving treatment, but other members of the community had been put at greater risk of exposure to EVD than they would had been had those individuals been isolated when they first showed symptoms.
It indicated that contact tracing also relies on the cooperation of affected communities; when this cooperation was not secured, the vital task of tracking chains of transmission becomes much more difficult.
“Recent success in engaging with communities in the eastern Guinean prefecture of Lola enabled responders to trace cases and contacts related to an unsafe burial, and rapidly bring a localised outbreak under control. Similar breakthroughs must now be made in the remaining areas of transmission,” it stated.
It said most of the new confirmed cases reported by Guinea were in the capital, Conakry, with 13 confirmed cases, and the western prefecture of Forecariah, with 24 confirmed cases.
The report said north Guinean prefecture of Mali, which borders Senegal, reported two new confirmed cases.
It observed that a mission to strengthen surveillance in the border areas of Côte d’Ivoire was on-going.
It said further preparedness missions were planned for Guinea Bissau, Mali and Senegal later this month to strengthen cross-border surveillance.
The report said a total of two confirmed cases were reported from Liberia; all of the cases originated from the same area of Montserrado County, linked to a single chain of transmission.
It said following the steep decline in case incidence in Sierra Leone from December until the end of January, incidence had now stabilized.
It noted that a total of 74 cases were reported in the week to February 15, compared with 76 confirmed cases in the previous week.
It said the case fatality rate among hospitalized cases; calculated from all confirmed hospitalized cases with a reported definitive outcome remains high, at between 53 per cent and 64 per cent in the two affected countries.
The report said there had been over 23 000 reported confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of EVD in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone; with over 9000 reported deaths; adding that the outcomes for many cases were unknown.