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Health chiefs warn of further Ebola outbreak

SAFETY TEAM: Health workers disinfect an area outside a mosque in Guinea, where a man is suspected of dying from Ebola (PA)

THE HEAD of the United Nations Ebola response mission has admitted there is still a “huge risk” that the disease could spread to other parts of the world.

Speaking in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, Tony Banbury said there is more work to be done to successfully contain the virus.

His comments came as the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported the death toll had risen to 7,000.

Banbury refused to comment on whether the UN had achieved its set targets to combat Ebola.

The targets include the proportion of individuals being treated and for the safe burial of highly infectious bodies.

Bulldozers were seen clearing large areas for a new burial space in Sierra Leone on Sunday (Nov 30) with several hundred workers also digging graves.

In October, Banbury told the UN Security Council that by December 1 “70 per cent of all those infected by the disease must be under treatment and 70 per cent of the victims safely buried if the outbreak is to be successfully arrested.

He said the 70 per cent targets were being met in “the vast majority” of areas Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the three worst affected countries.

The UN official told BBC News more needed to be done in Sierra Leone, “especially in the capital of Freetown and the town of Port Loko”.

Despite a significant rise of Ebola cases in Sierra Leone, the number of cases in Guinea and Liberia have declined or stabilised.
Banbury added: “Those areas where we really need to focus our assets and our capabilities”.

WHO revealed the deadline to halt the outbreak had only been met by Guinea.

According the organisation’s figures, 23 per cent of cases are isolated and 27 per cent of burial teams are in operation in Liberia.

In Sierra Leone, around 40 per cent of cases have been isolated and 27 per cent of burial teams are active.

Latest reports indicate between 200 and 300 people are dying every week.

Dr Bruce Aylward, WHO’s top Ebola official, said: “If we don’t do it in 60 days and we take 90 days… a lot more people will die that shouldn’t.

“We will need that much more capacity on the ground to be able to manage the caseload”.

By January 1, WHO aim to isolate all Ebola patients and provide safe burials for all the dead.

Reported first in March this year in Guinea, Ebola has affected more than 16,000 people with almost 7,000 people dying, according to WHO statistics.

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