An Ebola virus outbreak continues to claim lives in the western African countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, but officials said they are seeing a slowing of new cases that may be a sign of a turning point.
A statement by the World Health Organization
said that while the outbreak in the countries is still at serious levels, with 67 new cases and 19 deaths reported from July 15-17, there are signs for optimism.
"The (Ebola) outbreak in Guinea continues to show a declining trend, with no new cases reported during this period," the WHO statement said. "Critical analyses and review of the current outbreak response is being undertaken to inform the process of developing prioritized national operational plans. Effective implementation of the prioritized plans will be vital in reversing the current trend of EVD outbreak, especially in Liberia and Sierra Leone."
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Tim Jagatic, a Canadian physician, told National Public Radio
that people who have contracted the disease are responding to it better by getting rest and making an effort not to infect others. Since March, the Ebola virus has been responsible of more than 600 deaths in the three countries.
"There is no cure but that does not mean we can't treat it with success," Jagatic told NPR. "This is just a virus. It's a virus like influenza. When we have influenza we know we stay home, take our fluids and let our bodies do the rest. That's the same thing that we are doing here. Our job is eliminating distractions for the immune system so it can create the anitbodies (that) cure the patient."
In Sierra Leone, religious leaders have started to blame the government's response to the outbreak for more than 190 deaths in the country. Bishop John Yambasu, chairman of a Sierra Leone interfaith task force, charged that the government failed to educate the public and declare a health emergency, Reuters reported
"Every day in this country the number of new cases is increasing," said Yambasu, head of the United Methodist Church of Sierra Leone. "To us as religious leaders that is unacceptable."
Yambasu told Reuters that the country's religious leaders would take charge and preach in their churches and mosques about the disease and call for change in the government's response to it.
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