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Risk of Ebola getting to Russia remains low

August 12, 2014, 23:56 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The current EVD outbreak began in Guinea in December 2013
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MOSCOW, August 12. /ITAR-TASS/. The Russian authorities said on Tuesday the risk of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) getting to the country remained very low.

The Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Protection and Welfare said it was taking measures to protect the Russian citizens from the risk of EVD transmission.

The presidential special envoy to Africa and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Federation Council, upper house of Russian parliament, Mikhail Margelov, called for more active cooperation with African countries following the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

“The epidemic is not only carrying the threat of death but it is also increasing tension in the region with the healthcare systems of the affected countries having to cope with the enormous workload, borders getting closed, civil planes being grounded and people panicking” he said.

Margelov warned that “the risk of fatal disease transmission in the world where countries are linked by intensive transportation services is high”.

He said Russian specialists had at last been let into the epidemic area. “Until now we were suspected of making plans for using the virus for military purposes,” he added.

Over 1,013 people have died and 1,848 have been infected since the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in West Africa in February, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

The current EVD outbreak began in Guinea in December 2013. This outbreak now involves transmission in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

The Ebola virus disease (formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever) was first reported in 1976 in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) and got its name from the river near which the first outbreak occurred.

It is a severe, often fatal illness, with a case fatality rate of up to 90%. It is one of the world’s most virulent diseases. The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people. Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan has recently visited Guinea and held high-level meetings with the presidents of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone to review the status of the Ebola epidemic and adopt common strategies to eradicate Ebola from the sub-region.

The first meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the director-general under the International Health Regulations regarding the 2014 Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in West Africa was held by teleconference on August 6 and 7.

Based on the Committee’s advice, the reports made by affected States Parties and the currently available information, the director-general accepted the Committee’s assessment and on August 8 declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

“West Africa is experiencing the largest, most severe and most complex outbreak of Ebola virus disease in history. Ebola outbreaks can be contained using available interventions like early detection and isolation, contact tracing and monitoring, and adherence to rigorous procedures of infection control. However, a specific treatment or vaccine would be a potent asset to counter the virus,” the organisation said on Tuesday.

On August 11, WHO convened a consultation to consider and assess the ethical implications for clinical decision-making of the potential use of unregistered interventions.

In the particular circumstances of the current outbreak, the panel reached consensus that “it is ethical to offer unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects, as potential treatment or prevention”, the statement said.

Speaking of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said three steps were urgent: first, “addressing the severe lack of capacity in the most severely affected countries”. He urged the international community “to respond urgently to the shortage of doctors, nurses and equipment, including protective clothing and isolation tents”.

The second step is a coordinated international response. Ban said he had designated David Nabarro as Senior United Nations System Coordinator for Ebola Virus Disease. Nabarro will be responsible for ensuring that the United Nations system makes an effective and coordinated contribution to the global effort to control the outbreak of Ebola, the U.N. chief said.

The third step would be avoiding panic and fear. “Ebola can be prevented. With resources, knowledge, early action and will, people can survive the disease. Ebola has been successfully brought under control elsewhere, and we can do it here too,” Ban said.

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