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Health care workers undergo infection control training in Sierra Leone. (Photo:WHO/W. Romeril)

Health care workers undergo infection control training in Sierra Leone. (Photo:WHO/W. Romeril)

'It Doesn't Look Good': World Health Body Fails to Meet Ebola Containment Goals

'The most dangerous thing would be if people now think Ebola is over and become complacent,' warns Ebola expert

Lauren McCauley

The World Health Organization has failed to meet their December 1 goal for isolating and containing the deadly Ebola outbreak in many regions of West Africa, the United Nations reports.

The targets, set in early October, aimed to get 70 per cent of the Ebola cases isolated and treated and to have 70 percent of the deceased safely buried by December 1. Of the hardest hit nations— Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone —only Guinea is on track to meet the deadline, WHO Spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said in a press briefing last week.

"In Liberia, only 23 per cent of cases are isolated and 26 per cent of the needed burial teams are in place. In Sierra Leone, about 40 per cent of cases are isolated while 27 per cent of burial teams are operational," the Associated Press reports.

WHO Emergency Ebola committee member Oyewale Tomori, of Redeemer's University in Nigeria, said that in light of the failed goals, WHO now must "redouble our efforts to see what we can do to reduce the spread and catch up with the virus."

"Right now, it doesn't look good," Tomori added.

Further, the UN health body reported last week that two new cases have been confirmed in Mali, where the disease has spread across the border from northern Guinea. Since late October, there have been six Ebola related deaths in Mali. Both new cases are being treated.

The ultimate goal of WHO's plan is to isolate all Ebola patients and provide safe burials for all by January 1. "The most dangerous thing would be if people now think Ebola is over and become complacent," warned Ebola expert Dr. David Heymann. Earlier this month, the U.S. military announced they were scaling back their response to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, dropping the number of troops and treatment facilities from their initial commitment.

This week, 150 health workers from the West African countries of Benin, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger and Nigeria will be training in Ghana on how to help tackle Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).

Worldwide, there have been a total of 15,935 reported cases of Ebola with 5,689 reported deaths, as of November 26.

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