The World Health Organization has declared an international public health emergency over the 2014 West Ebola outbreak, which killed nearly a thousand people in several countries. The announcement came on Friday after a meeting in Geneva earlier this week, set up to assess the situation.
WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan said at a press conference that due to insufficient resources the affected countries cannot contain the epidemic on their own and that a coordinated effort by the international community is required to stop the global spread of Ebola. After a two-day meeting of its emergency committee, the UN health agency concluded that the infection now poses a risk to the internal public health. The outbreak is considered “particularly serious” because of its virulence – it affected more than 1,700 and killed nearly a thousand people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.
The state of international emergency will urge countries to raise vigilance for transmission of the virus. However, no international travel or trade restrictions should be placed at that point as the disease isn’t transmitted through the air. According to WHO’s head of security, Keiji Fukuda, the infection can be contained with the right, adequate measures.
Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency, taking different steps to stop the spreading of the disease. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also issued highest-level emergency for Ebola. CDC Chief Tom Frieden said more Ebola-affected people are expected to move across borders via air travel and that the virus’ spread to the US is “inevitable”. Meanwhile, officials announced that the Obama administration is forming an Ebola expert working group to set up a policy for regulating clinical trials and actual use of experimental drugs against the disease.
This is the worst Ebola outbreak in the history, recording a death rate of 60-90%. Besides the epidemic in West Africa, there have been several cases of infected Americans; Saudi Arabia reported a suspected case, while Spain admitted a patient for treatment in a Madrid hospital earlier this week.