MOSCOW, November 7 (RIA Novosti) — International agencies are stepping up operations in Sierra Leone after reports the country is struggling to cope with the Ebola outbreak, with the number of infected continuing to rise.
In Sierra Leone “the international community has made a lot of progress in meeting the needs of the victims of this crisis,” said UN World Food Programme Director Ertharin Cousin in a press release yesterday. “But we all have more work to do. We need to scale up, we need to get better, we need to perform faster.”
In an External Situation Report published by UNMEER (UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response) yesterday, it was announced that while the incidence of infection was stable in Guinea and in Liberia and appeared to be declining, in Sierra Leone the incidence of transmission continues to rise. According to Reuters, two thirds of all new recorded cases have been in the past three weeks.
In a Weekly Situation Report on Sierra Leone from November 2, UNMEER detailed the particular difficulties in stopping the virus’ transmission, including a lack of beds in treatment centers, forcing families to care for patients at home, exposing caregivers to the disease. The report estimated that another 1,133 beds were needed by December 1 to provide treatment, a massive increase over the currently 288 available.
Yesterday’s report also put forward measures for scaling up the response, including three more facilities in the city of Port Loko. In a UN news report last week, UNMEER head Anthony Banbury complained Port Loko was “getting slammed” with new cases and struggling to cope. He contrasted the situation with that in Kenema, where there has been “a big drop in the case loads” due to emplacement of the following response strategies to treat Ebola: “the safe burials, the case management and treatment facilities, the community mobilization.”
Further measures to combat the disease in affected regions detailed by UNMEER include a finance package of at least $450 mln in commercial financing to facilitate economic recovery and a promise from the Obama administration to ask Congress for $6.2 bln in emergency funding.
According to the figures published yesterday, on November 2 there had been a total of 13,042 cases confirmed, probable or suspected, and a total of 4,818 reported deaths. The UN also warned that cases of infection are under-reported and last week estimated that as many as 50 percent were not being reported to authorities.