UNITED NATIONS, January 14. /TASS/. More than 10,000 people in the West African region survived Ebola infection and now need comprehensive support, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday at a General Assembly session dedicated to progress in anti-Ebola effort.
"More than 10,000 people in the West African region survived Ebola infection. They will need comprehensive support for their health and well-being. We must ensure care for survivors, for widows, orphans and other vulnerable populations," he said.
In his words, the region is on the cusp of being declared free of Ebola transmission for the first time since the outbreak of the infection in February 2014. Sierra Leone and Guinea declared the end of Ebola transmission at the end of 2015.
"These countries are now observing a 90-day period of heightened vigilance. National and international responders will need to remain fully engaged," Ban said, adding that Liberia was about to declare the end of the outbreak.
"That means that tomorrow — January 14th all known chains of transmission will have been stopped in West Africa," the UN secretary general stressed.
However he admitted that serious challenges still remained, with more flare-ups of Ebola anticipated in the coming year. "Sometimes when a challenge moves out of a crisis phase, the world tends to move on. Sometimes it even forgets," he said and called on countries to remain on edge to be ready to prevent possible recurrences of the disease.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the death toll from Ebola outbreak in West Africa exceeded 11,000. Most of these deaths were reported from three countries - Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said in December some 22,000 had orphaned as a result of the outbreak.
The World Health Organization describes Ebola virus disease (formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever) as "a severe, often fatal illness, with a case fatality rate of up to 90%." Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people. People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus. The incubation period is 2 to 21 days. There is no known cure or vaccine for the disease. The only treatment offered is "supportive intensive care." During an outbreak, those at higher risk of infection are health workers, family members and others in close contact with sick people and deceased patients.