Disaster Update: West Africa Ebola Outbreak

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As the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in recorded history continues to devastate Western Africa, the American Red Cross is supporting efforts through both financial and staffing support.

While the Sierra Leone Red Cross is taking the lead in promoting awareness through social mobilization campaigns, the American Red Cross, along with the global Red Cross network, is helping amplify efforts and strengthen capacity. An American Red Cross specialist has been deployed to provide telecommunications support and internet to the health team in country, and follows another IT specialist that had been in Sierra Leone for the past month.

The American Red Cross has also assisted with remote mapping and information management in the region and has contributed $100,000 to strengthen the capacities of both the Liberia Red Cross and Guinea Red Cross. These funds will help manage the Ebola outbreak response and increase public awareness of the virus.

Red Cross volunteers in the region working to assist with Ebola awareness efforts. In total, more than 2,500 volunteers have been mobilized in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to date.

Since March 2014, some 1,200 cases have been reported and more than 670 deaths have been linked to the virus in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and most recently, Nigeria.

Currently outbreaks are centered in the cities of Kailahun and Kenema in Sierra Leone, and the counties of Lofa and Montserrado in Liberia.

Recognizing the severity of the issue, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has announced the closure of most of Liberia’s borders, with stringent medical checks being stepped up at airports and major trade routes. The government has also banned public gatherings of any kind, including events and demonstrations.

Difficulties remain in identifying cases, tracing contacts, and raising public awareness about the disease and how to reduce the risk of transmission. These difficulties, including widespread misconception, resistance, denial and occasional hostility, are considerably complicating the humanitarian response to containing the outbreak.

For more information on the Ebola outbreak and response, visit http://www.ifrc.org.

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