Acting early important to avoid crisis: Ebola co-discoverer

crop2_240x24028oct14Peter Piot, co-discoverer of the Ebola virus in 1976, said here Monday that the lesson that people should draw from an Ebola crisis was that it could be avoidable by acting early.

Speaking at the University of Hong Kong, Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that West Africa’s funeral tradition deteriorated the epidemic, Xinhua reported.

In West African traditions, people touch and kiss the beloved ones in funerals to say goodbye. Once families and friends touched dead bodies, they would be easily infected as the Ebola virus would be in its strongest situation soon after patients died. Once people touched dead bodies they would be easily infected.

Piot then stressed that acting early was very important for every outbreak. He said if measures were implemented earlier, and patients were properly isolated, the crisis would be avoidable.

“I would rather be accused of overreacting than not reacting, and then let things out of control,” he said.

In his view, stopping the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is in line with the interests of other countries.

“Our world is so globalised…Hong Kong (for instance) is at the crossroads of many many continents. So the best way to control Ebola in any country is to make sure that in West Africa it is stopped.”

He criticised the US’s new policy which demands that anyone who had contact with Ebola sufferers in West Africa has to be put under a 21-day quarantine after flying into New York and New Jersey. He said this would totally undermine volunteers’ support to West African countries.

About China, Piot warned that the increasing number of Chinese people working in West Africa could pose a risk.

However, Piot believed that the crisis itself could bring positive changes.

“This is an opportunity… to intensify training in infection control of hospital workers,” he said.

According to the latest figures released by the World Health Organisation, more than 10,000 people have been infected with Ebola and nearly half of them have died.

The deadly Ebola virus, which first broke out in West Africa in March, has put the whole world on high alert since it spread to Europe and the US.

Source: IANS
Image: Getty Images