Senegal confirms first Ebola case
DAKAR – The West African country of Senegal has confirmed its first Ebola case one week after closing its borders with Guinea over fears that the deadly outbreak could spread, the Senegalese Press Agency reported today.
Senegal’s Minister of Health Awa Marie Coll Seck confirmed that a 21-year-old university student from Guinea was infected with the Ebola virus and placed in quarantine in the Fann Hospital in Dakar, the news agency reported.
Officials in Guinea alerted Senegal on August 27 after losing track of the young man, the agency reported.
The young man, who doesn’t have any signs of bleeding, went to the hospital for a check-up, the agency said. His condition is stable.
On August 21, Senegal closed its borders with Guinea over fears of the Ebola outbreak, the deadliest ever. The closure includes any aircraft and ships travelling to Senegal from Guinea, Sierra Leone or Liberia.
The Ebola outbreak “continues to accelerate” in West Africa and has killed 1,552 people, the World Health Organization said yesterday.
The total number of cases stands at 3,069, with 40 per cent occurring in the past three weeks.
“However, most cases are concentrated in only a few localities,” the WHO said.
The outbreak has been centred in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, with a handful of cases in Nigeria.
The overall fatality rate is 52 per cent, the WHO said, ranging from 42 per cent in Sierra Leone to 66 per cent in Guinea.
The case of the 21-year-old Conakry University student is the first one reported in Senegal, which is located to the north-west of Guinea.
Sierra Leone and Liberia border Guinea to the southwest. Those three nations have been the epicentre of the Ebola outbreak.
Corpses in the three countries are being buried without determining cause of death, WHO says. Medical staff cannot keep up with the current demand, especially with the limited supplies they have on hand.
Senegal is not the first country to close its border during the outbreak. President Ellen Sirleaf has shut most of Liberia’s borders to contain the virus. The few points of entry that are still open are testing people passing through for Ebola. Guinea and Sierra Leone have done the same. Kenya, South Africa and others in the region are also limiting travel to and from the area.
The crisis has taken a heavy toll on health workers caring for those struck down by the virus. The WHO said Monday that 120 health care workers had died in the Ebola outbreak, and twice that number had been infected.