Despite making great strides in controlling West Africa’s Ebola outbreak, getting to zero isn’t going to be easy. A fact driven home again this morning after two new cases were announced by the World Health Organization in Guinea, after going two weeks without seeing a new case.
The most recent Ebola Situation Report – issued on the 14th – shows just how much progress has been made, although several hundred registered `contacts’ of known cases remain under follow up, and more than 200 others remain untraced.
- No confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) were reported in the week to 11 October. This is the second consecutive week with zero confirmed cases. However, 150 registered contacts remain under follow-up in Guinea, of which 118 are high risk, and an additional 259 contacts remain untraced. There remains a near-term risk of further cases among both registered and untraced contacts. In Sierra Leone, 2 high-risk contacts associated with the 2 most recently active chains of transmission in the country were lost to follow-up and have not yet been found. In addition, a patient who was reported as a case in the United Kingdom on 29 December 2014, and who later recovered, was hospitalised on 6 October in the United Kingdom after developing late EVD-related complications. As of 13 October, 62 close contacts have been identified in the UK for follow-up.
Despite the two-week lull in case reports, the possibility of seeing new cases emerge has always been viewed as substantial. Today’s announcement essentially resets the clock, as it requires going 42 days without a new case for a country to be declared free of the virus.
While a a disappointing setback, considering we were seeing as many as 700 cases a week just over a year ago, the progress that has been made in recent months is still remarkable.