Via The New York Times: Emergency Efforts in Africa to Contain Ebola as Toll Rises. Click through for the full report with photos, links, and a video clip. Excerpt:
ABUJA, Nigeria — As the death toll mounted from the worst outbreak of the Ebola virus, West African leaders quickened the pace of emergency efforts on Thursday, deploying soldiers and authorizing house-to-house searches for infected people in an effort to combat the disease.
International efforts to contain the virus also gained momentum and urgency. The World Health Organization announced a $100 million plan on Thursday to get more medical experts and supplies to the overwhelmed region, as the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States committed the agency to sending 50 more experts there in coming weeks.
First recognized in March in Guinea, the Ebola outbreak has surged through porous borders to invade neighboring countries, quickly outstripping fragile health systems and forcing health officials to fight the battle on many fronts. Past outbreaks have been more localized, but the current one has spread extensively over a vast region.
The stepped-up effort is long overdue, according to some analysts. They say the initial response was inadequate on both the national and international level and allowed the disease to mushroom from a local outbreak to an international threat.
The viral illness has exacted a terrible toll, killing 729 people, including top physicians in Liberia and Sierra Leone, nations that already faced an acute shortage of doctors. The outbreak has also sickened two American aid workers, who were being rushed back to the United States for treatment.
“The whole thing has been very incompetently handled,” said Lansana Gberie, a historian from Sierra Leone. “If the government had quarantined this area” where the outbreak started, in the remote northeast, “they could have contained it. Instead they opened a treatment center in Kenema, a major population center.”
On PoliticoSL, a widely followed website in Sierra Leone, a journalist, Umaru Fofana, has written recently that “the country seems leaderless in the fight.” Now that cases have spread so widely, controlling the outbreak will be more costly and difficult.
Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the C.D.C., warned on Thursday that the worsening outbreak could take at least three to six months to bring under control, “even in a best-case scenario.” Hostility and violence directed at health workers are making the job harder, he said.