The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday said that the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa has affected an unprecedented number of health care workers. “So far, over 240 healthcare workers, including doctors and nurses, have contacted the disease in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone and over 120 have died,” said the international health agency.
“Ebola has taken the lives of prominent doctors in Sierra Leone and Liberia, depriving these countries not only of experienced and dedicated medical care but also of inspiring national heroes,” it added.
In the past, some Ebola outbreaks became visible only after transmission was amplified in a health care setting and doctors and nurses fell ill. However, once the Ebola virus was identified and proper protective measures were put in place, cases among medical staff dropped dramatically. But this time, in the outbreak that is the worst ever in terms of both area and number of people affected, a record number of health care professionals have lost their lives.
Giving an insight into why this number could be so high, the agency explained that in many cases, medical staff are at risk because no protective equipment is available-not even gloves and face masks. Even in dedicated Ebola wards, personal protective equipment is often scarce or not being properly used.
India taking all precautions
In another related development, 13 Indian nationals, who arrived in Delhi from Liberia on Tuesday, have been cleared after being screened for the Ebola virus, health ministry said. "All were screened for Ebola and found healthy," said the health ministry.
Before this, Delhi and Mumbai international airports were put on high alert after 112 Indian passengers arrived from the one of the worst Ebola-hit African countries from seven different flights on Tuesday. All flights were diverted to a remote bay and even the luggages of these flights were brought in separately.
According to WHO, the present Ebola outbreak is one of the deadliest outbreaks of international concern. Till now, nearly 2,700 people have been affected by the disease in West Africa and over 1,400 have died. The disease which has a fatality rate of up to 90 per cent has no cure or vaccine even 40 years after it was first discovered in Africa.