THE World Health Organization, WHO, yesterday, classified Kenya in East Africa as a “high risk” country for the spread of the deadly Ebola virus from West Africa, where nearly 2,000 have been infected. The virus could reach East Africa through Nairobi’s airport, where about 70 flights from West Africa land every week. It was, therefore, crucial to tighten Ebola controls, said the WHO’s Kenya director Custodia Mandlhate.
Kenya’s government has decided not to cancel any flights. Neighbouring Uganda, and Rwanda, have reported one suspected Ebola case each, which both tested negative. The number of reported Ebola cases in the four affected countries has climbed to 1,975 the WHO said in Geneva. Of these patients, 1,069 have died.
The updated tally includes 128 new cases and 56 deaths that were reported on Sunday and Monday, most of them from Liberia and Sierra Leone, the UN health agency said. Nigeria requested the experimental Ebola drug ZMapp after reporting its third death from the virus. “The Nigerian government has reached out to the US Centre for Disease Control to request the unapproved Ebola drug, ZMapp, for the treatment of affected persons in Nigeria,” said Information Minister Labaran Maku, who added that Nigeria was waiting for an answer.
The African Union on Wednesday welcomed the WHO’s decision to use experimental drugs in West Africa. “If you have a disease with a mortality rate of up to 90% and a treatment is offered, then the patient should be given this drug if he consents,” said African Union commissioner for social affairs Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko. Nigeria is the second African country to request ZMapp.
Liberia requested doses of the medicine, which has reportedly already been used on two doctors in the country. ZMapp was also given to two American aid workers, who are said to have shown a strong improvement, and a Spanish missionary priest, who died in Madrid. But it was unclear if Nigeria’s request could be fulfilled, as ZMapp’s American manufacturer said in a statement Wednesday that it had “exhausted” its limited supply.
The new death reported in Nigeria brings the total number killed in that country to three. Jatto Asihu Abdulqudir, 36, was a Nigerian staff member of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) and had been in contact with Liberian government consultant Patrick Sawyer, who was the first person to die of Ebola in Nigeria on July 25. Ten Ebola cases have been confirmed in Nigeria, and 139 people are under surveillance, according to the Health Ministry. Gambia, Ivory Coast and Zambia banned flights from Nigeria, and Zambia said Nigerian passengers would be quarantined for 30 days before being permitted to enter the country.
Ghana on Wednesday said it was extending the holiday of tertiary educational institutions for two weeks to gain time to implement Ebola screening facilities at universities. Hundreds of West Africans, especially Nigerians, study in Ghana. Germany has called on its citizens to leave Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia to protect themselves from the Ebola outbreak.