UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations has set a goal to see the number of cases reduce to zero by year-end 2015, according to Anthony Banbury of the U.N.’s Ebola response team.
Supporting the idea the Ebola outbreak in West Africa can be eradicated during 2015, the United Nations noted the number of cases in Sierra Leone over a three-week period has fallen below 1,000 for the first time since Sept. 28, suggesting the spread of the disease is slowing.
On Friday, the World Health Organization reported 20,381 confirmed cases worldwide, with 7,989 deaths, with the outbreak in Sierra Leone recorded as the most severe, with a total of 9,633 cases and 2,827 deaths.
As WND previously reported, Peter Piot, the director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a part of the team that discovered Ebola in 1976, has warned the Ebola epidemic in West Africa will last through 2015.
After more than a year of Ebola transmission in Guinea and more than seven months of transmission in Liberia and Sierra Leone, there is still much to be done to stop the world’s first Ebola epidemic, CDC director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., reported from his second visit to the three West African affected nations.
“It is inspiring to see how much better the response has become in the past two months, how much international commitment there is and, most importantly, how hard people from each of the three countries are working to stop Ebola,” Frieden said. “But it is sobering that Ebola continues to spread rapidly in Sierra Leone and that in parts of Monrovia and Conakry Ebola is spreading unabated. Improvements in contact tracing are urgently needed.”
Scientists in Germany are reporting that “patient zero,” the first person to contract Ebola in the current West African outbreak, may have been a two-year-old child who died in December 2013 and was believed infected while playing in a hollow tree infected by bat-eating insects outside the Guinean village of Meliandou near near Guéckédou in the south of the country.
Even after the Ebola outbreaks in West Africa are eradicated, however, the long-term economic effects are certain to continue for years to come.
The United Nations World Food Program, WFP, has distributed an estimated 22 million pounds of emergency food in West Africa over the past two months, trying desperately to aid some 500,000 people in the region who have gone hungry because of the disease.
The U.N. recently highlighted a WFP helicopter mission to bring food to a remote village in Liberia where Ebola has killed some 14 people in the past few weeks.
Sacks of rice were airlifted to Quinwein, an isolated village in Liberia’s Grand Bassa County, with a total of 900 inhabitants including the neighboring settlements. The village requires an hour-and-a-half walk to the nearest road on a path that even a motorcycle cannot handle.
The U.N. WFP provided a series of dramatic photographs that illustrate the food rescue effort in Liberia.