Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lauded progress made in recent months toward slowing the pace of the spread of Ebola among the West African countries hardest hit by the virus, but he warned more work would be needed before the outbreak comes to an end.
Frieden spoke with reporters Monday after returning Sunday from West Africa, his second trip to the region since the start of the Ebola outbreak. He described the current situation in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia as “a world of difference” from what he saw during his last trip in September, but he also expressed concern that some local health workers were beginning to become complacent in adhering to safety protocols when treating Ebola patients.
“As cases have come down, we've seen in parts of all of the three countries healthcare workers relaxing their grip on the (Ebola) response—not using protective equipment and not thinking of Ebola at every opportunity,” Frieden said.
The World Health Organization estimates in its latest assessment that the total number of infected cases since March had risen to more than 19,000 as of Dec. 22, with more than 7,500 reported deaths.