The overall numbers in the West Africa Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak are lower than the previous update last week standing at  13,015 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of EVD and 4,808 deaths being reported up to the
end of 2 November 2014 by the Ministries of Health of Guinea and Sierra Leone, and 31 October by the Ministry of Health of Liberia, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Liberia Ebola  public service poster/CDC
Liberia Ebola public service poster/CDC

The WHO explains the decrease in cases as follows:

The fewer cases reported this week compared with the Situation Report of 29 October is due to a change in the use of data sources. In this report, the cumulative total numbers of cases and deaths nationally and by district  are identical to those presented in situation reports compiled by ministries of health and WHO country offices. Previously, these totals were derived from a combination of patient databases and country situation reports. The revised approach unifies the totals presented in this report with those given in national reports.

Specifics on the situation in the three countries show that in Guinea, the incidence of EVD appears to be stable at a national level; however,  EVD transmission in Guinea remains intense with  93 new confirmed cases reported in the past week.

A bright spot is there are signs that the incidence could be flattening in some areas. The outbreak’s epicentre of Gueckedou did not report a single confirmed case in the past week.

Better news is also coming out of Liberia where there appears to be some evidence of a decline at the national level, although new case numbers remain high in parts of the country.

On the other hand in Sierra Leone, EVD transmission remains very concerning as the country reported 435 confirmed cases in the past week. Much of this was driven by intense transmission in the capital of Freetown, which reported 115 new
confirmed cases and remains one of the worst affected cities in this outbreak.

The first-ever UN mission for a public health emergency, the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), has been established to address the unprecedented EVD outbreak. The mission’s strategic priorities are to stop the spread of the disease, treat infected patients, ensure essential services, preserve stability, and prevent the spread of EVD to countries currently unaffected.

A comprehensive 90-day plan to control and reverse the EVD outbreak in West Africa has been implemented. Among the plan’s key objectives is to have the capacity to isolate at least 70% of EVD cases and safely bury at least 70% of patients who die from EVD by 1 December 2014 (the 60-day target). The ultimate goal is to have capacity to isolate 100% of EVD cases and safely bury 100% of patients who die from EVD by 1 January 2015 (the 90-day target).

Good news from Mali as no new EVD cases have been reported.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has been battling a separate Ebola outbreak from the West Africa one, if the country does not report any additional EVD cases during the next 18 days it will have met the WHO criteria of being declared Ebola free.