The latest statistics released this week by the World Health Organization show nearly 20,000 confirmed cases of Ebola, with “intense” transmission rates picking up in Sierra Leone.
The official death toll stood at 7,588. The fatality rate for Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia in cases where “a definitive outcome is known” stands at 70 percent, the WHO said.
“Reported case incidence is fluctuating in Guinea and declining in Liberia. In Sierra Leone, there are signs that the increase in incidence has slowed, and that incidence may no longer be increasing,” said the organization’s report. “The country’s west is now experiencing the most intense transmission in the affected countries, and response efforts have been strengthened to curb the spread of disease in the area.”
“At a national level, the capacity to isolate and treat EVD patients has improved in all three countries since the commencement of the emergency response. While every country has sufficient capacity to isolate patients, the uneven geographical distribution of beds and cases means shortfalls persist in some districts. Each country has sufficient capacity to bury all people known to have died from Ebola, although it is possible that capacity is inadequate in some districts.”
The WHO found the infection rate to be about the same among men and women, with people aged 15 to 44 three times more likely to contract the virus and people aged 45 and over nearly four times more likely. As of Dec. 21, 666 healthcare workers have gotten Ebola and 366 of those have died.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, last week became the first member of Congress to visit the region since the outbreak began. Coons tweeted that he crossed paths with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden in Monrovia.
Why the #elbowbump? It’s used in Liberia as an alternative to shaking hands to reduce skin-to-skin contact. pic.twitter.com/UU3kF8mpAk
— Senator Chris Coons (@ChrisCoons) December 21, 2014