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The death toll from Ebola has jumped to more than 1,900

However, there are hopes that the global response to the crisis will soon have an impact.

Health workers prepare disinfectant in containers, foreground, to spray at an Ebola treatment center in the city of Monrovia, Liberia.
Health workers prepare disinfectant in containers, foreground, to spray at an Ebola treatment center in the city of Monrovia, Liberia.
Image: AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh

MORE THAN 1,900 people have now died of Ebola in west Africa, the World Health Organization has said, warning the world’s worst-ever outbreak of the virus is still gathering pace.

Global health experts have stepped up their warnings in recent days that world leaders need to do more to address the epidemic, which is most prominent in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The outbreak of Ebola, transmitted through contact with infected bodily fluids, has sparked alarm throughout the region but also further afield, with scientists scrambling to come up with treatment.

“As of this week, we are reporting 3,500 cases confirmed in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia and more than 1,900 deaths — and the outbreak is rising,” WHO chief Margaret Chan told reporters in Washington.

The latest toll represents a significant increase from the 1,552 deaths and 3,069 cases reported by the Geneva-based organization just days ago.

The number of deaths also is higher than the total fatalities in all previous outbreaks combined.

Chan said she hoped that the global response to the health crisis would soon bear fruit, especially in the hardest-hit countries:

With this international response, coordinated response, the money is coming, the technical experts are coming, so we hope to stop the transmission in six to nine months.

Her agency has previously said at least $490 million (373 million euros) would be needed to bring the outbreak under control, by which time over 20,000 people could be affected.

But David Nabarro, the senior UN system coordinator on Ebola, said that total costs could rise even higher.

“It will cost at least 600 million dollars — maybe a lot more — to get the necessary support to the countries, to get the situation under control,” Nabarro told reporters in Washington.

So far, more than 30 people have died in a separate outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nigeria reported a seventh death on Wednesday.

Emergency operation

The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) launched an emergency operation on Tuesday to get 65,000 tonnes of food to 1.3 million people in the worst-hit areas.

International medical agency Doctors Without Borders said yesterday the world was “losing the battle” to contain Ebola.

The head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tom Frieden, said urgent action was needed.

“We need action now to scale up the response. We know how to stop Ebola. The challenge is to scale it up to the massive levels needed to stop this outbreak,” Frieden said.

“This is really the first epidemic of Ebola the world has ever known.”

© – AFP 2014

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