NEW YORK/LAGOS. — The world is falling behind in a desperate race to gain the upper hand over the deadly Ebola outbreak, a top UN official warned on Tuesday. Meanwhile, a second Texas healthcare worker who treated the first patient in the United States to be diagnosed with Ebola has tested positive for the disease, the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a statement yesterday.
The worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, was immediately isolated after reporting a fever on Tuesday, the department said.
“Health officials have interviewed the latest patient to quickly identify any contacts or potential exposures, and those people will be monitored,” the department said.
The news comes just days after another nurse, 26-year-old Nina Pham, became the first person infected by Ebola in the United States while caring for Duncan during much of his 11 days in the hospital. He died on October 8.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement that it was performing confirmation testing of Texas’ preliminary tests on the new patient.
“An additional health care worker testing positive for Ebola is a serious concern, and the CDC has already taken active steps to minimise the risk to health care workers and the patient,” the CDC said, as Anthony Banbury, head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response told the UN Security Council in New York: “Ebola got a head start on us. It is far ahead of us, it is running faster than us, and it is winning the race.”
“If Ebola wins, we the peoples of the United Nations lose so very much,” he said.
“We either stop Ebola now or we face an entirely unprecedented situation for which we do not have a plan,” Banbury stressed.
He said that with infection rates rising exponentially every day, UNMEER will need 7 000 beds for treatment.
“There’s much bad news about Ebola but the good news is we know how to stop it,” said Banbury. But to push back the spread “we must defeat Ebola and we must do it fast,” he said.
“With every day that passes, the number of sick people increases,” Banbury added.
“Time is our biggest enemy. We must use every minute of every day to our advantage and that is what UNMEER is doing.”
WHO assistant director general Bruce Aylward, describing his figures as a working forecast, said the epidemic “could reach 5 000 to 10 000 cases per week by the first week of December.”
The latest death toll is 4 447, from 8 914 recorded infection cases, Aylward said as the worst-ever Ebola outbreak spirals in the three hardest-hit countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. — AFP/CAJ News/Reuters.