New Delhi: A study by scientists from Yale University and Liberia’s ministry of health and social welfare has projected that there could be more than 90,000 deaths from the Ebola virus outbreak in Montserrado, Liberia, alone by mid-December, if the epidemic continues on its present course.

A mathematical transmission model of the viral disease was applied to Montserrado, Liberia’s most populous city, which is already severely affected by the disease.

The findings were published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal on Friday as Mali confirmed its first Ebola case, and a hospitalized medical aid worker tested positive for Ebola in New York City.

On Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that 9,936 cases of Ebola had been reported and 4,877 of those infected had died.

WHO experts noted that there continues to be an exponential increase in cases in the three countries with the most intense transmission of the disease—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone—and that because of this the situation remains of great concern.

WHO officials also said that the number of cases and deaths in these countries are under-reported. They also noted that special attention needs to be paid to the needs of healthcare workers, even after they return to their own countries.

“Our predictions highlight the rapidly closing window ofopportunity for controlling the outbreak, and averting a catastrophic toll of new Ebola cases and deaths in the coming months," said Alison Galvani, professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health and the paper’s senior author.

“Although we might still be within the midst of what will ultimately be viewed as the early phase of the current outbreak, the possibility of averting calamitous repercussions from an initially delayed and insufficient response is quickly eroding," she said in a press release.

Galvani and her colleagues projected 170,996 total reported and unreported cases of the disease and 90,122 deaths in Montserrado alone by 15 December.

The study says that according to their model, as many as 97,940 cases of the disease could be averted if the international community steps up control measures starting 31 October. These efforts would include additional beds at Ebola treatment centres, a fivefold increase in the speed with which cases are detected and allocating protective kits to the families of patients awaiting admission at the treatment centres.

A WHO official on Thursday said that till now a request for $1 billion (around 6,000 crore) in funds has been made through the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, but only about $420 million has been received.

“The current global health strategy is woefully inadequate to stop the current volatile Ebola epidemic," said the report’s co-author Frederick Altice, a Yale professor of medicine and public health. “At a minimum, capable logisticians are needed to construct a sufficient number of Ebola treatment units in order to avoid the unnecessary deaths of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people."

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