Democratic Republic of the Congo Free of Ebola Transmission
Having reached 42 consecutive days since the country’s last suspected Ebola case tested negative two times, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was officially free of Ebola transmission on November 21. We have missed the last few weeks of news updates, but it was of course important to include this news. This marks the seventh Ebola outbreak the country has overcome since 1976. There were 66 cases and 49 deaths (CDC).
Concerns over the situation in Mali renewed after the country saw a second collection of Ebola cases recently, but authorities are again confident that the virus is contained in the country. Mali has seen eight suspected Ebola cases leading to six deaths (CDC). However, Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita recently stated that the last patient known to be ill with the virus was cured and that there are currently zero active Ebola cases in the country (NBC News).
Significant progress has been made in containing Ebola in urban centers, and now the landscape of the disease is especially comprised of pockets of the disease in rural areas. This will likely compel a change in U.S. military strategy from deploying large, centralized Ebola treatment units to deploying more nimble and smaller rapid response teams to remote areas (NPR).
While large gatherings are still not permitted to prevent Ebola transmission, this prohibition no longer applies to political rallies in Liberia. Senate elections were originally planned for mid-October but were delayed due to the outbreak, but with the rate of new infections below 100 per week, Liberia is planning for a December 16 election date, a heartening sign of Ebola’s secondary effects diminishing (ABC News).
Cases, Deaths and Locations
The number of Ebola cases has surpassed 17,000 and deaths have surpassed 6,000. As of December 3 the totals, including cases in Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain and the United States, stand at 17,145 cases with 6,070 deaths. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone remain the countries characterized by “widespread transmission” (CDC).
Although Guinea has achieved the two benchmarks of isolating 70% of Ebola patients and performing 70% of burials safely by December 1, Liberia and Sierra Leone have not. Liberia remains the worst affected country in terms of cases and deaths, but as rates of new cases appear to be stabilizing in Liberia and Guinea, recent weeks show new case numbers till rising in Sierra Leone (NY Times).