UNITED NATIONS – Lacking a medical solution to the worst Ebola outbreak in history, governments and organizations in West Africa are resorting to a medieval tactic that would radically affect the lives of more than 1 million people, according to the World Health Organization.
The method popularized in the era of the Black Death plague in the 14th century, the “cordon sanitaire,” draws a line around the geographic area where the infections are taking place, allowing no one to exit. It hasn’t been used since the end of World War I.
Plans to cordon off a triangular area that includes parts of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia were discussed as early as Aug. 1, and troops began closing roads last week in the effort to prevent the deadly virus from spreading further.
The WHO is supporting the move. Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO’s director-general, remarked in a briefing in Geneva that the decisions “to seal off the hot zone of disease transmission, that is, the area where the borders of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone intersect, are critical for stopping the re-infection of areas via the cross-border movement of people.”
WHO admits, however, sealing off the hot zone is not without consequences, with more than 1 million people affected who “need daily material support, including food.”
“The isolation of this zone has made it even more difficult for agencies, like Doctors Without Borders, to bring in staff and supplies,” WHO said.
There is also the question of how to manage doctors and health workers trying to save patients’ lives. Would they be trapped along with the rest of the population or allowed to leave, potentially carrying with them a life-threatening disease? Or should the affected population be left to its own?
In ancient times, the cordon sanitaire was used as a last-ditch effort to contain a disease, and the citizens of the trapped area were usually left to their own devices. While in this case the WHO has committed to provide food to the million people affected by the quarantine, there is little else it can do.
As WND reported, even though the WHO has approved the use of experimental treatments to cure Ebola, there are no readily available supplies, making the disease untreatable for the foreseeable future, with a mortality rate of well over half the people it infects
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