News & Media

Friday, April 11, 2014

[INDUSTRY NEWS] Ebola outbreak takes hold in West Africa

Ebola virus disease is one of the most dangerous health hazards in the world. It brings with it an extremely high fatality rate, and has been known to affect hundreds of people each year.

Historically, one of the most impacted parts of the world has been in Africa. Unfortunately, this trend has held true recently, and a new outbreak of the disease has already claimed the lives of more than 100 people in Guinea and Liberia, with the potential to spread to other parts of West Africa in the coming months. This outbreak highlights the importance of proper safety procedures and international health insurance for expats. Everyone living nearby is at risk of contracting Ebola, and should prepare accordingly. 

Number of Ebola cases on the rise
Over the past month, the number of Ebola cases in West Africa has been on the rise. According to the World Health Organization, a total of 158 cases have been officially reported as of April 9. In addition, 101 deaths have also occurred. Laboratory testing is ongoing to further determine the extent of the outbreak. 

Two countries that are most affected so far have been Liberia and Guinea. For example, six districts in Guinea have reported patients, including Conakry, Guekedou, Kissidougou, Dabola and Djingaraye. The most reported cases have been in Guekedou so far, at 96 total and 32 confirmed. In order to combat this outbreak, local health organizations have been working to establish assessment and training programs in major hospitals. The World Health Organization is also on hand to lend support. 

Unfortunately, it seems that the reported cases of Ebola won't remain confined to those two nations. New cases have already appeared in neighboring regions, and other countries close by are also at risk. 

Outbreak impacts local businesses, daily life
The threat of Ebola has already caused problems for local businesses and other parts of the economy in West Africa. Problems could even arise for expats, and it is especially important to have comprehensive international health insurance available in case of an illness.

According to Bloomberg, hotels in the region have already experienced a decline in business since the outbreak was reported. At the Grand Hotel de L'Independence in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, patrons have been calling nonstop to cancel all reservations.

"At least 80 percent of our reservations have been canceled," Ibrahima Capi Camara, general manager of the hotel, told the media outlet. "Clients are scared to come because of Ebola."

In addition to the impact on local businesses, expats may also have to be aware of changes with nearby borders. 

Many countries have taken measures to prevent the outbreak from spreading, Bloomberg noted, even though WHO doesn't support border closings as an effective method. For instance, Senegal recently closed its border with Guinea, and the Ivory Coast has prevented buses from traveling to both that country and Liberia. 

As a result, area residents and employers now have to contend with a fearful population. That has led to increased business disruptions and the potential for economic damage. Above all else, residents at risk should make sure to avoid contact with those that are infected, be careful when making travel arrangements and take out adequate international health insurance.

Clements Worldwide has been helping to protect expats globally for over 65 years. Contact 1-800-872-0067 or email for your comprehensive international health insurance plan now. 

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