Since November of 2014, the Ebola virus has showed signs of slowing down as HFA and other organizations work to stop the outbreak. But before we start on this month, we'll fill you in on what happened in between. There's plenty of numbers and facts, and yes sometimes its tedious, but it should give you a good idea about what's going on in West Africa and the Ebola Epidemic.
In December, Sierra Leone exhibited high number of total cases, nearly 9,500, the highest of the three West African countries effected by the epidemic The district of Tonklili in Sierra Leone was added to the five districts part of a lock down, joining Bombali, Port Loko, Kailahun, Kenema, and the Western Area. Nearly 1,000 new cases had been reported in December with deaths in the country totaling 2,758 (WHO). The diamond rich district of Kono in east Sierra Leone was put on lock-down, adding to the list of districts being quarantined. Because of the growing number of cases, public festivities for Christmas and New Years were banned in order to keep the population safe. The WHO did see a slow down in total case incidences in the country as people recovered from the virus, giving hope to all those following the story. Liberia also exhibited a high number of cases, a total of 8,018 (WHO), though case incidences had been declining at a national level since mid-November; experts predicted Liberia will continue to see less and less cases as time goes on. Guinea reported 2,707 (WHO), unlike Liberia and Sierra Leone, there was no discernible trend in the number of transmissions in the country. The fluctuations in new case incidences was a cause for concern for those on the ground. With the month coming to a close, a total of 20,206 (WHO) people were infected with the Ebola virus and 7,905 (WHO) people had died.
Going into January the CDC, WHO, and the UN began the second phase of the operation: from slowing the epidemic down to ending it. Efforts focused on building infrastructure, case management, community engagement, and the practice of safe burials (burial rituals were a major cause of the early and rapid spread of the virus). Because of these procedures, case incidences began falling and continued to do so throughout the first month of the year. Though this was good news, the fatality rate among hospitalized cases still floated around 60% in the three affected countries. Healthcare workers also began feeling the affects of the virus. A total of 816 workers had been confirmed as infected with 488 reported deaths. Though the spread of the virus was showing signs of slowing down due to the work done by HFA, CDC, UN, WHO, and various different organizations, total deaths of those already infected, increased from 7,905 in December to 8,795 (WHO).
Though December and January displayed a decline in the number of new case incidences in Sierra Leone, February proved to be different. Eight districts within the country reported new confirmed cases as reports began arising from unknown chains of transmission. The northwestern district of Bombali showed sharp increases, causing transmissions to be spread outward toward the coastal districts of Port Loko and Kambia in the west. According the the World Health Organization, fifteen unsafe burials took place during the month in the district of Bombali, once again showing the importance of safe burials. Meanwhile in Liberia, the virus showed signs of slowing down. Only two districts had confirmed cases in over a month. The nineteen Ebola Treatment Centers (ETCs) in the country had been assessed and all met minimum standards, coupled with the low number of new cases, it's proof that the facilities and precautions taken in Liberia are working. In Guinea, we continued to see fluctuations in the number of case incidences. This is partially due to the difficulty the organizations on the ground are having in engaging with the community. As more precautions are implemented, we expected to see a more stabilized rate of case incidences. Despite the higher number of cases in Sierra Leone, the month of February ended on a high note with the World Health Organization announcing that "the infrastructure, systems, and people needed are now in place to end the epidemic; response measures must now be fully implemented."
So present day. March. What happened this month?
The third week of the month saw the lowest number of confirmed cases of the year. Guinea is showing signs of improvement: cases declined in every district. It looks like transmissions has been contained to the area of Conakry, just north of Sierra Leone. Liberia continues to show improvement, exhibiting only a few cases the entire month. Although Sierra Leone had a shaky month in February, the country continues to see an overall downward trend in the number of confirmed cases. The number of cases continues to decline in almost all the districts in the country. Freetown is showing signs of virus activity, but as stated above, continues a downward trend. Experts predict the epidemic to end in August.
HFA will continue to support the citizens of Sierra Leone in their battle against Ebola, visit "Our Programs" page to donate medical provisions to those working on ground zero to help #StopEbola.
Hands for Africa
Hands for Africa is a non-profit organization working to restore lost hope to those devastated by the civil war in Sierra Leone. We support amputee victims by developing and implementing self-reliance programs and providing the necessary aid for the advancement of these programs.