The World Health Organization announced Tuesday that the worst Ebola outbreak in history has so far claimed at least 1,229 lives and caused 2,240 cases of the deadly disease across four countries.
“To reduce the likelihood that those who are infected will carry the disease outside their communities, the governments have set up quarantine zones in areas of high transmission including severely affected cities such as Gueckedou in Guinea, Kenema and Kailahun in Sierra Leone and Foya in Liberia,” WHO said in a release. “The United Nations World Food Programme is now scaling up its program to distribute food to the around one million people living in the quarantine zones in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.”
The current outbreak is believed to have begun in December in Guinea, which has been hit the hardest in terms of mortality rate. Of those that contracted Ebola in Guinea, almost 73 percent have died. (The current outbreak’s overall mortality rate is nearly 55 percent.) However, WHO noted that public awareness about Ebola is higher in Guinea than in the other affected countries.
In Nigeria, where the outbreak has had the smallest impact, WHO said the situation “looks reassuring” because all of the 12 confirmed cases of Ebola were part of a single transmission chain, one of whom has fully recovered. This is good news, WHO said, because “it counters the widespread perception that infection with the Ebola virus is invariably a death sentence.”
Also on Tuesday, German police quarantined a job center in Berlin after a woman believed to be from an Ebola-affected African country started showing flu-like symptoms.
“We cannot yet rule out Ebola since everyone is talking about it and it is very dangerous at the moment,” Dr. Rolf Erbe, German fire service, told the AP. “But Ebola is not here in Germany and all these cases are suspicions only and nothing has yet been confirmed. We still have to wait for the final tests and we must always expect the worst so that is why we are taking these precautions.”