Ebola Could Infect 20,000—WHO

eolaThe World Health Organization says the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa, could infect more than 20,000 people before it is brought under control.

The UN agency said the number of cases could already be four times higher than the 3,000 currently registered.  It also called on airlines to resume “vital” flights across the region, saying travel bans were threatening efforts to beat the epidemic.

So far, 1,552 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria have died.

Announcing a WHO action plan to deal with the outbreak, Bruce Aylward said “the actual number of cases may be 2-4 fold higher than that currently reported” in some areas.

The WHO assistant director-general said the possibility of 20,000 cases “is a scale that I think has not ever been anticipated in terms of an Ebola outbreak”.

“That’s not saying we expect 20,000… but we have got to have a system in place that we can deal with robust numbers,” he added.

The WHO plan calls for $489 million (£295m) to be spent over the next nine months and requires 750 international workers and 12,000 national workers across West Africa.

Treatment centres in the affected West African states are already said to be operating at full capacity  Yesterday, Nigeria confirmed its first Ebola death outside Lagos, with an infected doctor in the oil hub of Port Harcourt dying from the disease.

Operations have not yet been affected in Africa’s biggest oil producer, but a spokesman for Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary said they were “monitoring the Ebola outbreak very closely”.

Health ministers from across West Africa are meeting in Ghana at an extraordinary meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) to discuss how to prevent the virus from spreading further.

Officials at the Ecowas session backed the WHO’s call for flight bans to be ended and called for states to reopen their borders to make it easier for health workers to access affected areas.

Earlier Mr Aylward insisted bans on travel and trade would not stop the spread of Ebola, saying they were “more likely to compromise the ability to respond”. — BBC

 

 

 

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