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

Sunday, December 21, 2014
By Paul Martin

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

Chris Johnston
Saturday 20 December 2014

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.

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