My fellow Liberians, our nation is currently affected by the deadly Ebola Virus and the disease has now spread to eight counties. Liberia is among three countries experiencing an unprecedented outbreak of the virus, the larger ever since this virus was first discovered. It now poses serious risks to the health, safety, security and welfare of our nation. And beyond the public health risk, the disease is now undermining the economic stability of our country to the tone of millions of dollars in lost revenue, productivity and economic activity.
The heath care system in the county is now under immense strain and the Ebola epidemic is having a chilling effect on the overall health care delivery. Out of fear of being infected with the disease, health care practitioners are afraid to accept new patients, especially in community clinics all across the country. Consequently, many common diseases which are especially prevalent during the rainy season, such as malaria, typhoid and common cold, are going untreated and may lead to unnecessary and preventable deaths.
The virus currently has no cure and has a fatality rate of up to 90 percent. The aggregate number of cases; confirmed, probable and suspected in Liberia has now exceeded 500 with about 271 cumulative deaths. With 32 deaths among health care workers. The death rate among citizens, especially among health workers is alarming.
Two weeks ago, I established a National Task Force, which I chair myself, to respond to this crisis. I instructed all non-essential government staff to stay home for 30 days, ordered the closure of schools, and authorized the fumigation of all public buildings. We have shut down markets in affected areas and have restricted movement in others. We have improved our response time and contact tracking and have begun coordinating with regional and international partners.