Uganda announces lockdown as Ebola cases rise
By Joseph Rangel
31 March 2013
Overcrowding and a chronic lack of access to clean water, sanitation and health services have led to the rise of a new and terrifyingly infectious disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Friday that the number of Ebola cases have increased by 70 percent, and by two thirds in the last six months.
In a statement carried on Al Jazeera TV, WHO’s director general Dr. Margaret Chan said: “Over the past months, we have witnessed a serious escalation in reported cases that continues to challenge the world’s response in the Ebola outbreak.”
She went on to characterize the current situation as “a public health emergency of international concern” because the epidemic has grown to involve Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, territories in which there is widespread poverty, ethnic conflict and weak government control. “The international community has to show commitment,” she said.
In the past four weeks, a total of 30 cases have now been confirmed in Guinea, 21 in Liberia and seven in Sierra Leone, the WHO said. All of the cases were diagnosed in the border regions between the three nations.
The announcement was made at a press conference in The Hague, the Dutch capital. The WHO, in the past several weeks, has increased the case tally in West Africa by 50 percent.
The most important factors contributing to the increased prevalence of Ebola in the last 60 days, Chan said, included “weak surveillance systems, inadequate laboratory capacity, delays in health care seeking, weak human and material resources for treatment, and low awareness and lack of information, including about the disease, among the local populations and communities.”
Despite the apparent failure of both public and private health care systems to detect or treat Ebola in the affected area of West Africa, it has now spread into the United States, where a person who presented at a hospital there Wednesday is being treated for pneumonia and dehydration. The CDC and the World Health Organization have confirmed that they have not yet received a case of Ebola from America.
Chan noted that the United States is now receiving “about 500 suspected cases of the disease every day.” She stated:
“We cannot let it go untreated.”
She announced there were now 5,200 beds available to treat those infected with Ebola in West Africa, but she made no mention