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Dublin: 1 °C Monday 30 March, 2020
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Zero... That's how many Ebola patients are being treated right now at one centre in Liberia

Progress is being made in the battle against the disease in the African nation. Another 250-bed centre is treating around 50 patients.

A MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres) nurse gets prepared with Personal Protection Equipment in Liberia.
A MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres) nurse gets prepared with Personal Protection Equipment in Liberia.
Image: Jerome Delay/AP/Press Association Images

THE NUMBER OF new Ebola cases in Liberia has slowed in recent weeks, according to medical workers in the West African nation.

Médecins Sans Frontières says that unlike in neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone, its teams on the ground are witnessing a decline in the number of patients admitted to emergency centres for the first time since the beginning of the epidemic.

At present, one 250-bed centre in Monrovia is treating around 50 patients.

In Foya, in northern Liberia, MSF says the number of patients reached zero on 30 October —- with no confirmed cases since that date.

However there are warnings patient numbers could increase again.

“In Liberia, the international response is finally getting off the ground,” said Fasil Tezsera, MSF head of operations in Liberia.

“Financial support is starting to flow into the country and huge resources are being put into constructing large-scale Ebola isolation centres.

“Isolation units in Monrovia and some other parts of the country now have adequate capacity and we must adapt the strategy if we want to stay ahead of the curve and beat the epidemic.

“Priority should be given to a more flexible approach that allows a rapid response to new outbreaks and gets the regular healthcare system safely up and running again.”

Rapid response

Rapid response teams should be deployed quickly to actively investigate hotspots wherever they occur, and mount a comprehensive response, MSF said.

“In Foya, we believe this comprehensive approach, as well as active engagement by the community, has led to a steady reduction of cases across the county,” Dr Nico Heijenberg, an MSF emergency coordinator, said.

“Trust and understanding by the community is hugely important in acceptance of medical activities, and in successfully containing the virus.”

The outbreak is officially thought to have claimed 4,960 lives and infected 13,042 people, according to the latest data issued by the World Health Organisation.

In Liberia, 2,697 people have died out of a total of 6,525 cases.

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