The last person being monitored for symptoms in connection with Texas' three Ebola patients is set to be cleared tonight from twice-daily monitoring. Dr. Craig Spencer, the New York City doctor being treated for Ebola, is expected to be moved out of the isolation room at Bellevue Hospital Center soon.
Despite the good news in the United States, the Ebola outbreak is still raging in West Africa, especially in Sierra Leone, where there is a shortage of beds in treatment units.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ebola virus has been responsible for 4,818 deaths in West Africa. The rate of new infections appears to be declining in Liberia, stable in Guinea, but still rising in Sierra Leone.
Shortage of Beds in Sierra Leone
In the past 21 days there have been 1,174 new Ebola cases in Sierra Leone. This is almost triple the 398 new cases in Liberia and more than quadruple the 256 new cases in Guinea, according to the WHO.
A report in U.S. News & World Report says there are only 400 beds in Ebola treatment units in Sierra Leone, even though that country accounts for almost two-thirds of new cases. "Patients are being turned away from hospitals, reducing their chance of survival and allowing the disease to spread," said Justine Greening, Britain's international development secretary. This week, the first of six treatment centers that Britain is building opened outside of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.
U.N. Ebola Chief Is Optimistic; Obama Asks Congress for Aid
Dr. David Nabarro, the U.N.'s Ebola chief, predicted the deadly outbreak in West Africa could end in 2015. He credited an extraordinary global response over the past month, but warned that the battle over Ebola is not even a quarter done. “Until the last case of Ebola is under treatment, we have to stay on full alert," he told The Associated Press.
Nabarro also said there are five times the number of beds for treatment in the three hardest-hit countries. This is more than there were two months ago. In addition, he reported improved efforts to find people with infections and trace their contacts.
In another development, President Barack Obama has requested $6.2 billion from Congress to fight Ebola. Of that sum, $4.6 billion would be used for immediate response to contain and eliminate the epidemic in West Africa. The remaining $1.6 billion would go to a Contingency Fund to ensure resources are available to meet the evolving nature of the epidemic.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has ordered $2.7 million in personal protective equipment (PPE) to increase Strategic National Stockpile supplies to assist U.S. hospitals caring for Ebola patients. Products are being configured into 50 kits that can be rapidly delivered to hospitals.
U.S. Army Africa/CC (top) and NIAID/CC (bottom)