Call for aggressive final push to neutralize Ebola epidemic
The head of the UN’s Ebola fighting force, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, expressed concerns on Sunday regarding passive efforts geared towards neutralizing the virus, praising Guinea for adopting more aggressive measures to accomplish such.
Ahmed’s comments were made after Guinea’s president, Alpha Conde, declared a 45-day health emergency in five regions in the country’s south-west and west regions on Saturday which resulted in the temporary closure of hospitals that received Ebola cases. “On behalf of the international community and the United Nations, I hail this brave decision,” he stated.
Guinea, along with Liberia and Sierra Leone, bore the majority of the 10,000 deaths caused by of the Ebola epidemic since it began in December 2013. The World Health Organization stated in January that the number of Ebola cases across West Africa declined once the three countries experienced consistent drops of their own.
Ahmed stressed the importance of being aggressive in “the last phase in the fight against Ebola,” adding that “our biggest enemy today is complacency.”
Ahmed’s concerns over complacency come in light of recent setbacks in countries worst-hit by Ebola, including Sierra Lione where a three-day nationwide lockdown imposed Friday to prevent the virus from resurging was alleviated only to allow Christians to attend Palm Sunday services. “By God’s grace, the current stay-at-home will signal the last kick of the dying Ebola horse,” commented Henry Williams, the pastor of a church in the capital of Freetown.
On Sunday, Yvonne Aki Sawyer, the director of planning at Sierra Leone’s National Ebola Response Centre, stressed the importance of quickly neutralizing the Ebola Virus: “It’s a race against time as we want to get Ebola out quickly as we are approaching the …start of the rainy season,” she said.