MatauAdvisory – Ebola (20140930)  Epidemic


The 2014 Ebola outbreaks are a health threat that is unparalleled in modern times. Ebola virus is a highly contagious, aggressive disease with a high Case Fatality Rate (CFR). There is no established cure. However the effective containment criteria were identified in the 1976 outbreak. The countries that are currently affected have been unable to effectively control these outbreaks. Meaningful levels of international assistance are needed to contain, and control the outbreak, and ultimately find a cure. Companies operating in or near Ebola outbreak countries are generally adopting 4-stage Disease Outbreak Management Plans. Countries around the world have increased screening and scrutiny of all people entering who may have been to an Ebola infected region or who may have had contact with Ebola patients.


  • Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans, with a Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of 50% to 90%. It is highly contagious and there is no established cure. However parameters for effective containment were identified in 1976.
  • Despite the high Case-Fatality Rate, the potential for widespread infection is actually considered relatively low, because direct contact with infected secretions is required. The disease is transmitted by contact. Infected (contagious) people are readily identifiable as not being well.
  • Treatment of patients is comprised primarily of isolation and support, coupled with rehydration of fluids with particular attention to electrolytes.
  • The current Ebola outbreak commenced in Guinea in March 2014, and is ongoing in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, and now with cases in Senegal and Nigeria.
  • The 2014 outbreak is the first to encroach major population centres, the earlieroutbreaks tending to be in relatively remote locations near jungle. WHO has declared this an International Public Health Emergency (IPHE).
  • The disease is actively spreading within the countries immediately bordering Mali and Cote d’Ivoire, however no cases have been declared by these two countries as yet.
  • While it registered the first case in the 2014 outbreak, Guinea has dealt with the outbreak in an orderly way, without the same issues being seen in Sierra Leone and Liberia. This has much to do with structural, government, and cultural differences between the countries.
  • WHO and US Centre for Disease Control (USCDC) have predicted that the outbreak may take another 6-9 months to bring under control.
  • Many borders against the countries with Ebola virus outbreaks have been closed to traffic and many commercial flights cancelled.
  • Most nations now isolate and screen passengers who have travelled from an outbreak area.
  • Isolation / quarantine is one of the key methods of limiting spread of this disease, but there is a real risk that the complete quarantine of infected regions may inhibit vital support responses reaching areas in need.
  • International aid is now, belatedly, increasingly flowing into the affected area, as the seriousness of, and lack of success in controlling the outbreak became more apparent.
  • Companies with operations in the region have generally adopted and are actively implementing, staged Disease Outbreak Management Plans. These processes assess, and act on, the seriousness of the outbreak and the probability of it reaching or materially impacting company operations and or logistics of the operation(s). Most (mining) company operations are not locations that sick people would seek out for assistance, nor are most operations in or near major population centres.
  • Gold production from the nations (Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia) that are currently the loci of the outbreaks, amounted to about 1% global gold output in 2009. Whereas output from neighbours and near neighbours, Mali, and Cote d’Ivoire represents about 2% of global gold supply, Ghana and Burkina Faso together contribute about 4% of global gold supply.
  • Containment, control, and ultimately a cure for this disease must be made a top priority for every government, company and organisation around the world.


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