US Spending Bill Includes Ebola Response Funding
On December 16 U.S. President Barack Obama signed an omnibus spending bill. The bill allocated $5.4 billion to fight Ebola in the United States and abroad, with $2.5 billion specifically appropriated to respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa (Reed Smith).
Last week, Sierra Leone overtook Liberia in total Ebola cases, and the situation is not improving. The country has seen approximately 1,200 fewer Ebola deaths than Liberia, but the fatality rate is tragically catching up to Liberia as well. As of last week, 10 of 11 Sierra Leonean doctors who had contracted Ebola had died, and the 11th doctor, Dr. Victor Willoughby – one of the country’s most senior physicians, died on Thursday morning (AP). In the face of their dire situation, Sierra Leone has rolled out a series of restrictions in an attempt to stop disease transmission. The government is conducting house-by-house searches for Ebola cases in Freetown, the capital city. Sunday trading is banned. Travel restrictions are in place over the holiday season, and many New Year’s festivities will be prohibited (BBC).
Liberia to Hold Elections Saturday
After several delays, such as postponements caused by Supreme Court hearings on when the country’s Senatorial elections should be held in light of the Ebola outbreak, Liberia plans to open polls for voting on Saturday, December 20. Plans are in place to prevent Ebola transmission during the proceedings, including hand-washing stations and a mandate to stay at least three feet away from all other voters (NY Times).
Cases, Deaths and Locations
As of December 18 the totals, including cases in Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain and the United States, stand at 18,603 cases with 6,916 deaths (CDC). Reports from late last week noted a suspected Ebola case in Guinea-Bissau (Outbreak News Today), but nothing has been confirmed at this time.