As we begin to see some progress in the fight against Ebola in Liberia, the country hardest-hit by the outbreak, more details are now available about Ebola’s spread to neighboring Mali.
Initially, a 2-year-old girl imported the virus from Guinea to Mali and sadly died of the disease on October 24. All 118 people believed to have come into contact with her have now passed the 21-day period without developing symptoms.
However, the virus was then re-introduced by a 70-year-old Imam from Guinea, who died in Mali on October 27. Since then, five more cases have been linked to the Imam; these include two health care workers who treated him and three members of a family he visited upon his arrival in Mali, all of whom have died.
During his presentation to the UN Security Council on November 21, Tony Banbury, the UN’s Deputy Ebola Coordinator, announced that the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) will establish a presence in Mali to support national efforts to stop the disease before it spreads further.
Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), arrived in Mali on November 22 at the invitation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to help organize the response. WHO and the Ministry of Health have initiated a massive effort to identify all people who may have come into contact Ebola – including several attendees at the Imam’s funeral – and monitor them daily for symptoms. Additionally, WHO has deployed 10 additional epidemiologists, and the Malian government is ramping up exit screening at the airport in its capital city.