Ebola outbreak in West Africa could infect over 20,000, says WHO

Ebola outbreak is likely to lead to ‘sharply’ lower growth in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, says IMF


The deadly outbreak that began in Guinea in March and has spread to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone as well as to Nigeria requires a massive and coordinated international response, the WHO said. Photo: AFP
The deadly outbreak that began in Guinea in March and has spread to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone as well as to Nigeria requires a massive and coordinated international response, the WHO said. Photo: AFP

Geneva: In a bleak assessment of the deadly disease, World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday said $490 million is required over next six months to combat the Ebola virus, and that the current outbreak in West Africa could infect more than 20,000 people.

On Thursday, International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the Ebola outbreak is likely to lead to “sharply” lower growth in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and raise financing needs in the countries.

The death toll stands at 1,552.

“The Ebola outbreak is having an acute macroeconomic and social impact on three already fragile countries in West Africa,” IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters. “We are actively working with all three countries to prepare a preliminary economic assessment of the impact of the Ebola crisis, and additional financing support that may be required.”

Meanwhile, WHO issued a strategic plan to combat the oubreak in four West African nations where it said the actual number of cases could already be two to four times higher than the reported 3,069.

“This roadmap assumes that in many areas of intense transmission, actual number of cases may be 2-4 fold higher than that currently reported. It acknowledges that the aggregate case load of Ebola Virus Disease could exceed 20,000 over the course of this emergency,” the WHO said.

The deadly outbreak that began in Guinea in March and has spread to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone as well as to Nigeria requires a massive and coordinated international response, the WHO said. A separate outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo identified as a different strain, is not included in its toll.

“Response activities must be adapted in areas of intense transmission and particular attention must be given to stopping transmission in capital cities and major ports, thereby facilitating the larger response and relief effort,” the WHO said.

The virus is still being spread in a “substantial number of localities”, aggravating fragile social and economic conditions and has already killed an unprecedented number of health workers, WHO said.

A wider UN-led plan being launched by September-end is “expected to underpin support for the increasingly acute problems associated with food security, protection, water, sanitation and hygiene, primary and secondary health care and education, as well as the longer-term recovery effort that will be needed,” the WHO said. Reuters

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