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THE WORLD’S LARGEST AND DEADLIEST VIRUS STRIKES AFRICA

The outbreak of Ebola virus is the world's largest and deadliest. The UN agency last week declared it an international health emergency. 
The WHO has appealed for funds and medical staff to supplement health care in one of the poorest regions in the world.So far, 1,013 people have died, the vast majority in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.Two have died in Nigeria.
 
The suffering has been exacerbated by health services that are struggling to cope.  On Tuesday, Liberian Ceceilia Gbelley lay on the grass among a group of seven outside an Ebola treatment centre at Monrovia's Elwa hospital because there was no space for them inside.  

All said they feared they might have the disease. In a sign of the desperation for even experimental medicine as the death toll mounts, Twitter users in West Africa, where Ebola is killing around 60% of patients who become infected, created the #GiveUsTheSerum hashtag. There are no licensed treatments or vaccines for Ebola, a contagious haemorrhagic disease, but several biotech companies and research teams have been working on potential drugs. 

  • The WHO's panel of medical ethicists said several experimental drugs had passed the laboratory and animal study phases of development and should be fast-tracked into clinical trials and made available for compassionate use.
  • WHO said only around 10 to 12 doses of the drug have been made. Liberia was preparing to treat the two Liberian doctors with ZMapp after US authorities approved its export.
  • On Tuesday, Canadian Health Minister Rona Ambrose said Canada would donate 800 to 1,000 doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine developed in its government lab to the WHO for use in West Africa. 
  • Canada owns a small quantity of the vaccine and would need four to six months to make a large quantity. 
  • The 75-year-old priest, who the Health Ministry said was also being treated with ZMapp, died in hospital in Madrid on Tuesday. He contracted Ebola in Liberia while working for a non-governmental organisation. 
  • It was unclear whether his death shed any light on the efficacy of the drug.  
  • Despite the stir caused by ZMapp, the WHO has said preventive public health measures are crucial to curbing the outbreak.

Ivory Coast, the economic powerhouse of French-speaking West Africa, on Monday banned air travellers from the three worst-hit countries and ordered its flagship carrier Air Cote d'Ivoire to cease flights to and from them. 
Ivory Coast has not registered any cases but is seen as vulnerable given its shared borders with Guinea and Liberia. 
Ghana's government said the start of the academic year would be delayed for at least two weeks for all tertiary institutions to allow Ebola screening measures to be put in place. 
Guinea and Sierra Leone have been ordered by the Confederation of African Football to move their African Nations Cup qualifiers next month.


Source: Reuters

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