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Russian plane with medics flies to Ebola-stricken Guinea

August 21, 2014, 23:13 UTC+3 ZHUKOVSKY
Onboard are laboratory and specialists of the Russian Plague Control Research Institute
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© ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Smirnov

ZHUKOVSKY, August 21, /ITAR-TASS/. A plane with a group of medics has left Moscow and headed for Guinea to help African countries deal with the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak, the Emergencies Ministry said on Thursday.

Eight Russian epidemiologists, virologists and bacteriologists will go to Guinea later in the day. Valentin Safronov, head of a specialised anti-epidemic team of the Russian Plague Control Research Institute, said before the departure, “We will be working in shifts, staying there for a maximum of five months overall.”

He said there were no plans to use a vaccine against the Ebola virus disease. “No such task has been set to us. If it is set, I think we will be able to fulfill it,” Safronov said.

The medics will also bring two mobile modules for examination of patients. “They [the modules] can do hundreds of tests a day, each taking no more than three hours,” he said.

The plane is to land in Guinea’s capital of Conakry.

Meanwhile, clinicians working in Liberia have informed the World Health Organisation (WHO) that 2 doctors and 1 nurse have received the experimental Ebola therapy, ZMapp.

ZMapp is one of several experimental medicines and vaccines for Ebola that are currently undergoing investigation. At present, supplies of all are extremely limited, WHO said.

On September 4-5, WHO will host a consultation on potential Ebola therapies and vaccines in Geneva in order to gather expertise about the most promising experimental therapies and vaccines and their role in containing the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Participating in the consultation will be more than 100 experts working in various fields, ranging from pharmaceutical research and the clinical demands of Ebola care, to expertise on ethical, legal, and regulatory issues. More than 20 experts from West Africa are expected to attend.

“Issues of safety and efficacy will be discussed together with innovative models for expediting clinical trials. Possible ways to ramp up production of the most promising products will also be explored,” WHO said.

Over 100 new deaths from the Ebola virus disease (EVD) were registered in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea over the past few days and the number of persons infected with EVD increased by 221, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

Overall, 1,350 people have died and 2,473 have been infected since the Ebola outbreak in December of last year. The situation is most alarming in Liberia where 95 people have died in two days, bringing the total death toll to 576.

In Guinea, where an outbreak occurred eight months ago, the number of EVD-related deaths has reached 396; in Sierra Leone, 374.

In Nigeria, statistics have not changed: four dead and 15 infected.

WHO said no cases had been confirmed anywhere else in the world outside these 4 countries.

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 declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The United Nations has launched a system-wide coordination initiative to assist the effected West African countries in stopping the spread of the virus, which has left more than 1,000 people dead and is now affecting more than 1 million people throughout the region.

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