September 11, 2014 / 10:24 PM / 6 years ago

Worst Ebola outbreak on record tests global response

(Reuters) - International agencies and governments are struggling to contain the world’s worst epidemic of Ebola since the disease was discovered in 1976. The hemorrhagic virus has killed at least 2,296 people in West Africa.

Health workers remove the body of Prince Nyentee, a 29-year-old man whom local residents said died of Ebola virus in Monrovia September 11, 2014. REUTERS/James Giahyue

Here is a timeline of the main developments in the outbreak.

March 22: Guinea confirms that a previously unidentified hemorrhagic fever, which killed over 50 people in its southeast Forest Region, is Ebola. One study traces the suspected original source to a 2-year-old boy in the town of Gueckedou. Cases are also reported in the capital, Conakry.

March 30: Liberia reports two Ebola cases; suspected cases are reported in Sierra Leone.

April 1: Noting the spread, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) warns it is “unprecedented,” but a World Health Organization (WHO) spokesman calls it “relatively small still.”

April 4: A mob attacks an Ebola treatment center in southeast Guinea. Health care workers in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia face increasing hostility from fearful and suspicious local people, many of whom refuse to believe the disease exists.

May 26: WHO confirms the first deaths in Sierra Leone.

June 17: Liberia says Ebola reached its capital, Monrovia.

June 23: With deaths above 350, making the West African outbreak the worst Ebola epidemic ever recorded, MSF says the outbreak is “out of control” and calls for massive resources.

July 25: Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, confirms its first Ebola case, a Liberian-American man who died in the commercial hub, Lagos, after traveling from Monrovia.

July 29: Dr. Sheik Umar Khan, who was leading Sierra Leone’s fight against the epidemic, dies of the virus.

July 30: Liberia shuts schools and orders the quarantining of the worst-affected communities, using troops to enforce it.

July 31: The U.S. Peace Corps withdraws all volunteers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, citing Ebola risks.

Aug 2: An American missionary aid worker infected with Ebola in Liberia, Dr. Kent Brantly, is flown to Atlanta in the United States for treatment at Emory University Hospital.

Aug 4: The World Bank announces up to $200 million in emergency assistance for Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Aug 5: A second U.S. missionary infected with Ebola, Nancy Writebol, is flown from Liberia to the Atlanta hospital.

Aug 8: WHO declares Ebola an “international public health emergency” but stops short of calling for a ban on international trade or travel.

Aug 12: WHO says death toll from outbreak rises above 1,000, approves use of unproven drugs or vaccines.

Spanish priest infected with Ebola dies in Madrid hospital.

Aug 14: WHO says reports of Ebola deaths and cases from the field “vastly underestimate” the scale of the outbreak.

Aug 15: MSF compares the Ebola outbreak to “wartime,” says it will take about six months to control.

Aug 20: Liberian security forces in Monrovia fire live rounds and tear gas to disperse crowd trying to break out of Ebola quarantine. One teenager dies of gunshot wounds.

Aug 21: The two American missionary aid workers treated in Atlanta are released from the hospital free of the virus. They received an experimental therapy called ZMapp.

Aug 24: Democratic Republic of Congo declares an Ebola outbreak in its northern Equateur province, apparently separate from the larger West African outbreak.

Infected British medical worker is flown home from Sierra Leone for treatment.

Aug 28: WHO says death toll is above 1,550, warns outbreak could infect more than 20,000 people. The U.N. health agency announces a strategic plan to fight the epidemic, says $490 million will be needed over the next six months.

Aug 29: Senegal reports its first confirmed Ebola case.

Aug 30: World Food Program says it needs $70 million to feed 1.3 million people at risk in Ebola-quarantined areas.

Sept 2: MSF President Joanne Liu tells U.N. members the world is “losing the battle” to contain the Ebola outbreak and slams “a global coalition of inaction.”

Sept 3: Pace of epidemic accelerates; deaths top 1,900. Officials say there were close to 400 deaths in the past week.

A third U.S. missionary infected with Ebola, Dr. Rick Sacra of Boston, is flown out of Liberia for treatment at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

Sept. 5: WHO puts Ebola deaths in West Africa at more than 2,100 out of about 4,000 people thought to have been infected.

Sierra Leone announces a four-day, countrywide “lockdown” to halt the virus’s spread, starting Sept. 18.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon says the world body plans a center to coordinate the response to the epidemic.

European Union pledges 140 million euros (US$180 million) toward the fight against the outbreak.

Sept. 6: Scientists publish a map of places most at risk of an Ebola outbreak, saying regions likely to be home to animals harboring the virus are more widespread than previously feared, particularly in West Africa. (To see the map, click on

Sept. 7: President Barack Obama says in an interview the United States needs to do more to help control Ebola to prevent it from becoming a global crisis that could threaten Americans.

Sept. 8: WHO says Liberia, the country worst hit by the epidemic, should see thousands of new cases in coming weeks as the virus spreads exponentially.

Britain says it will send military and humanitarian experts to Sierra Leone to set up an Ebola treatment center, while the United States says it will send a 25-bed military field hospital to Liberia to help provide care for health workers.

A fourth Ebola patient will be flown to the United States for treatment, says Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital.

Sept. 9: WHO says the death toll jumped by almost 200 in a single day to at least 2,296 and is already likely to be higher. The agency says it has recorded 4,293 cases in five West African countries, but it did not have new figures for Liberia.

Liberia’s defense minister tells U.N. Security Council his country’s national existence is seriously threatened by Ebola.

Sept. 10: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledges $50 million to support emergency efforts to contain the disease.

Sept. 11: International Monetary Fund says economic growth in Liberia and Sierra Leone could decline by as much as 3.5 percentage points due to Ebola, which has crippled their mining, agriculture and services sectors.

Doctors treating Sacra at University of Nebraska Medical Center say he is showing “remarkable improvement” after receiving an infusion of plasma from U.S. Ebola survivor Brantly and an undisclosed experimental drug.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s charitable foundation says it will give the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention$9 million to establish emergency operations centers in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Writing by Pascal Fletcher and Jonathan Oatis; Editing by Toni Reinhold

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