NEW YORK – In a five-hour emergency meeting in Guinea with World Health Organization Director General Margaret Chan, the heads of state of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia agreed to use military forces and police to isolate the region responsible for more than 70 percent of the growing Ebola epidemic.
“We have agreed to take important and extraordinary actions at the inter-country level to focus on cross-border regions that have more than 70 percent of the epidemic,” said the three-nation communiqué from the Friday meeting.
“These areas will be isolated by police and the military. The people in these zones being isolated will be provided with material support. The health care services in these zones will be strengthened for treatment, testing and contact tracing to be done effectively. Burials will be done in accordance with national health care regulations.”
Ebola spreading in Nigeria
The WHO in Geneva confirmed today the emergency military and police measures taken by Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told WND in a telephone interview that some 70 cases are under investigation involving health care workers who have begun showing symptoms of Ebola infection.
The WHO is now reporting two confirmed cases of Ebola in Nigeria and one case as “probable,” resulting primarily from health care workers who had contact with a person traveling by air from Ghana.
“The risk of the virus spreading remains as long as air travel from West Africa continues,” Hartl said. “A person not showing symptoms cannot be prevented from flying, but if that person is infected by the Ebola virus, the symptoms may develop in flight or even days after the airplane has landed in the destination country.”
Hartl admitted that to stop Ebola from spreading by air travel, the WHO had to rely on “a person doing the right thing” by presenting himself immediately to a medical facility in the destination country once Ebola symptoms began to appear and saying, “I’ve just returned from West Africa.”
$100 million might not be enough
Hartl told WND the WHO has received $30 million of a $100 million request for international assistance made last week in an urgent attempt to place additional health care professionals and equipment in the West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak.
“This might be the first of several requests because this is just a huge effort we are mounting,” he said. “We must keep our minds open that even $100 million might not be sufficient.”
On Wednesday this week, the health ministers of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are meeting to implement the health care protocols the three heads of state agreed upon at last week’s summit.