News and updates from the continent

WHO: Ebola reaches 10 000 mark; 4 922 deaths

WHO: Ebola reaches 10 000 mark; 4 922 deaths

Oct 27, 2014

The number of cases in the Ebola outbreak has exceeded 10,000, with 4,922 deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) says in its latest report, released on 25 October 2014 (download here).

The WHO situation report says that Liberia is the worst affected country, with 2,705 deaths. Sierra Leone has had 1,281 fatalities and Guinea has had 926. Recently delacred Ebola-free Nigeria recorded eight deaths, with both Mali and one in the USA declaring one death each.

The report shows that 27 of the cases have occurred outside the three worst-hit countries, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, which account for all but 10 of the fatalities.

The number of cases stood at 10,141 at the time of publishing the statement, but that the figure could be much higher according to the WHO, as many families were keeping relatives at home rather than taking them to over-crowded treatment centres.

Progress on vaccinations

On October 24, the WHO convened a meeting in Geneva with high-ranking government representatives from Ebola-affected countries and development partners, civil society, regulatory agencies, vaccine manufacturers and funding agencies yesterday to discuss and agree on how to fast track testing and deployment of vaccines in sufficient numbers to impact the Ebola epidemic.

A report published by the organisation said that the key consensus commitments achieved during the meeting were as follows:

* Results from phase 1 clinical trials of most advanced vaccines are expected to be available in December 2014 and efficacy trials in affected countries also will begin in this timeframe, with protocols adapted to take into consideration safety and immunogenicity results as they become available.

* Pharmaceutical companies developing the vaccines committed to ramp up production capacity for millions of doses to be available in 2015, with several hundred thousand ready before the end of the first half of the year. Regulatory authorities in countries where the vaccines are manufactured and in Africa committed to supporting this goal by working under extremely short deadlines.

* Community engagement is key and work should be scaled up urgently in partnership between local communities, national governments, NGOs and international organisations.

As the number of people contracting the disease continues to rise, governments around the world are scrambling to protect and educate citizens, while keeping people from panicking and spreading damaging rumours on social media and in the press.

Environment in Africa will continue to follow and publish Ebola updates, and encourage readers to learn the facts about the disease and not fall prey to scaremongering. Knowing the symptoms and seeking medical help as soon as possible for any suspected treatments is vital. For key facts about Ebola, click here.

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