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Between August 5 and 6, 2014, a total of 68 new cases of Ebola virus disease (laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) as well as 29 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
On Aug. 6-7, 2014, an Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) was convened via teleconference to determine whether the current outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. After discussion and deliberation on the information provided, the Committee advised that:
- the Ebola outbreak in West Africa constitutes an ‘extraordinary event’ and a public health risk to other States;
- the possible consequences of further international spread are particularly serious in view of the virulence of the virus, the intensive community and healthcare facility transmission patterns, and the weak health systems in the currently affected and most at-risk countries
- a coordinated international response is deemed essential to stop and reverse the international spread of Ebola.
It was the unanimous view of the Committee that the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) have been met.
On Aug. 8, 2014, the director-general, Dr. Margaret Chan, gave a press briefing to the international media from WHO headquarters. Chan will give an additional briefing on the situation of the outbreak and the ongoing response in the region to the permanent and observer missions to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva on Aug. 12, 2014. Permanent representatives of the affected countries have been invited to speak on behalf of their respective governments on the national Ebola response and priorities.
On Aug. 11, 2014 WHO will convene a panel of medical ethics experts to begin looking at the use of experimental treatments in the ongoing EVD outbreak in West Africa. At this time, there are no registered medicines or vaccines against this deadly virus; several experimental options are currently under development, though. The recent treatment of two health workers from U.S. faith-based aid organizations has raised questions about whether medicines that have never been tested or shown to be safe in humans should be used in outbreak situations. In the case of Ebola, supplies are extremely limited, which then raises questions about who should receive it, if it is used.