Travel Alert – Liberia – Ebola Severity HIGH…

Drum Cusac has issued this latest UPDATED warning for U.S. Citizens and others traveling in the continent of West Africa , specifically Monrovia.  This information is available to GeoBlue plan members from the GeoBlue website daily…

Ebola Spreads to Police Force in Monrovia as Aid Agencies Issue Urgent Call for Greater Assistance from International Community

Government Warning Issued for West Africa

Severity: 4 (High)

Category: Health and Medical

Source: Drum Cussac

09/09/2014 (Liberia) – Liberian officials indicated on Monday, 8 September, that the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic had spread to the West African nation’s police force after an officer was diagnosed with the virus in Monrovia. The infected officer is reported to have contracted EVD from his wife, who is a nurse, and is said to be in a critical condition. According to officials, 18 other police officers from Bloc C of the main Police Barracks located along Camp Johnson Road in the capital have been placed under quarantine.

While law enforcement personnel have been enforcing quarantine zones, providing security at Liberia’s medical facilities as well as providing escorts for health worker teams, officers are rarely seen wearing protective gear, such as gloves, while carrying out such duties. The infection of a police officer underscores the threat posed by EVD to personnel involved in tackling the growing EVD epidemic. Scores of healthcare workers have died or been sickened by infected patients, while taxis, which are used to transport suspected cases, have been identified as a major source of infection. As of 5 September, 152 healthcare workers have been infected, while 79 have succumbed to the virus.

Also on Monday, the international aid agency, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), stated that its facilities in Monrovia were overwhelmed by the number of suspected EVD patients being brought to treatment centres. According to MSF, the lack of beds and available space was forcing its workers to turn down arriving patients. The organisation stated that it needed at least 1,000 beds to handle the number of cases in the capital alone. At this stage, MSF only had 160 beds in its Monrovia facilities, with plans to expand that number to 240 in the coming week and to 400 going forward.

MSF has called on other aid agencies as well as governments in Europe, America and Asia to provide greater assistance to build up Liberia’s crumbling healthcare infrastructure. Liberia’s ability to contain the virus is intimately linked to the international community response as the country’s healthcare system, which was largely destroyed during the civil war, comes under further strain. Even before the EVD epidemic began killing healthcare workers, Liberia only had one doctor per 100,000 people and the country’s response capabilities is highly vulnerable to the loss of healthcare workers to the virus. MSF in early September urged governments with biological-disaster response capacity to mobilise their civilian and military medical assets, and personnel, to affected countries to bolster epidemic control efforts. Just days after the statement was issued, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that current control and containment measures were failing to stem the spread of EVD in Liberia. As of 5 September, at least 1,871 people had been infected, resulting in 1,089 fatalities according to the WHO.

Personnel in Liberia are advised to closely monitor the situation and pay special attention to Ebola-related developments and announcements from the authorities. Frequent hand-washing, wearing protective clothing and abstaining from bush meat can help to minimise the risk of exposure. Those experiencing early symptoms of Ebola, including fever, headache, joint pain, chills and sore throat should consult a physician immediately. Medical evacuation plans, including full repatriation if possible, are essential. Chances of recovery are higher in Western hospitals. However, travellers should be aware that current quarantine procedures may legally prohibit them from leaving the country.

Copyright © 2014 Drum Cussac

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