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More than 90,000 Ebola deaths expected in Liberia by Christmas

The number of Ebola treatment centre beds and other measures needed to control the epidemic substantially exceeds the total pledged.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

NEW RESEARCH HAS shown that, without expanded control efforts, up to 170,996 total reported and unreported Ebola cases, and 90,122 deaths are projected in Montserrado County in Liberia, where there is currently an epidemic, by 15 December this year.

The research, published today in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, found that the number of Ebola treatment centre beds and other measures needed to control the epidemic substantially exceeds the total pledged by the international community to date.

The study estimates that of these cases and deaths, 42,669 cases and 27,175 deaths will have been reported by that time. However, rapid scale-up of control measures starting on 31 October, including 4,800 additional hospital beds, a fivefold increase in the speed with which cases are detected, and allocating protective kits for home care, could prevent as many as 97,940 cases by 15 December.

Further delays in expanding these interventions would greatly limit their effectiveness. For example, if delayed to 15 November, at best just over half as many cases would be averted.

“Our predictions highlight the rapidly closing window of opportunity for controlling the outbreak, and averting a catastrophic toll of new Ebola cases and deaths in the coming months,” warned Alison Galvani, senior author and Professor of Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, USA.

“While the window of opportunity for timely control of the Ebola outbreak has passed, the risk of catastrophic devastation both in West Africa and beyond has only just begun. While vaccines to prevent Ebola remain unavailable, our study urges a rapid and immediate scaling-up of all currently available non-pharmaceutical intervention strategies to minimize the occurrence of new cases and deaths.”

Read: There may be a cure for Ebola “within weeks”>

Read:‘When my son’s test for Ebola came back positive, it was a night of agony for me’>

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