Ebola death toll close to 7,400, says World Health Organisation


WHO figures show more than 19,000 people infected across west Africa, with Sierra Leone accounting for nearly half of total

The death toll from the worst ever outbreak of Ebola has reached nearly 7,400, with just over 19,000 people infected across west Africa, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Sierra Leone reported 400 new fatalities this week, bringing the death toll there to 2,500. As of 18 December, it had the highest number of people infected by the virus – 8,800 cases, of which 6,900 were confirmed, according to the country’s health ministry.

The WHO is attempting to curb an outbreak in the west of the country, where the disease is spreading fastest, by sending a “massive surge of staff and resources” to the area.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, who visited an Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone on Friday, said the spread of the virus was slowing and that there was reason to be “cautiously optimistic” about ridding the region of the disease.

“We have a long way to go. Zero cases in Liberia, and this entire region, must be everyone’s goal,” he said.

Ban also visited Liberia, which has suffered the most fatalities in the outbreak with more than 3,300 victims.

The country went ahead with a senate election on Saturday that had originally been scheduled for 14 October and then was twice postponed because of the outbreak.

Polling stations opened late in many part of the capital Monrovia and in other cities.

The national electoral commission said that all voters would have to wash their hands before entering polling stations and stay at least a metre apart from each other.

Ban travelled on to Guinea on Saturday, where the first cases of Ebola were confirmed in March, to meet the country’s president, Alpha Conde.

There have been 2,453 cases and 1,550 deaths in Guinea to date, the WHO said.

Ban expressed concern about the situation in the south-east of the country, where the number of infections continues to rise.

Both Guinea and Sierra Leone have imposed bans on new year’s eve celebrations such as fireworks displays and beach gatherings in a bid to stop further transmission.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: