The number of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) cases reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) in yesterday’s situation report saw an increase of approximately 3,500 newly reported cases from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
However, the newly reported cases do not represent a sudden surge in new Ebola cases, instead it shows how health agencies are getting caught up on the reporting from West Africa.
A total of 13, 676 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of EVD and 4,910 deaths have been reported up to the end of 27 October 2014 by the Ministries of Health of Guinea, and Sierra Leone, and 25 October for Liberia.
A major bright spot in the WHO report concerns the hardest hit nation, Liberia. The UN agency reports– The weekly increase in new cases in the area, however, appears to have halted since mid-September, with a reduction in numbers of confirmed and probable cases reported in the week ending 5 October.
It is possible that this reflects a true reduction in incidence. However, further data are needed to resolve this question. Liberia continues to report few confirmed cases. Laboratory data on recent confirmed cases may provide scope for deeper analysis not currently provided by the incidence data. The capacity to capture a true picture of the situation in Liberia remains hamstrung by underreporting of cases.
In addition, other news from Liberia shows there has been less burials, plateauing lab confirmations and less-cramped hospitals. However, the news comes with a huge note of caution as assistant director-general at the WHO, Dr. Bruce Aylward said, “I’m terrified that the information will be misinterpreted and people will start to think, ‘Oh great, this is under control,'” Aylward said. “That’s like saying your pet tiger is under control or something. This is a very, very dangerous disease.”
In a totally separate Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where 49 people have died, the country is on the clock concerning being classified as Ebola-free. The WHO states that 18 days have passed since the last case tested negative twice and was discharged from hospital. Once 42 days have passed, the country can be declared free of Ebola.