WHO Warns Ebola Infections Could Reach 20,000

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 28 2014 8:48 PM

WHO Warns Ebola Infections Could Reach 20,000

454016088-chinese-un-soldier-prepares-a-truckload-of-ebola-relief
A UN soldier prepares a truckload of Ebola relief aid in Liberia.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

The World Health Organization issued a dire warning on the potential toll of the Ebola outbreak on Thursday, saying the virus could infect as many as 20,000 people in the next nine months. The bleak forecast comes as the organization continues to try to mobilize the global community to combat the outbreak in West Africa. The WHO released documents on Thursday indicating the spread of the virus continues to accelerate—with more than 40 percent of the reported cases occurring in the last three weeks—and that “the actual number of cases may be two to four times higher than that currently reported,” the New York Times reports. “According to the latest figures released by the health organization on Thursday, the total cases had risen to 3,069, with 1,552 deaths, in four West African countries: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria,”

Here’s more from the WHO report via the Wall Street Journal:

The Geneva-based WHO said in its report, which it dubbed a road map for responding to Ebola, strengthening laboratory facilities and adding staff with more expertise in the disease were necessary to containing the outbreak. Public health infrastructure needed to be improved to cope with future threat… The WHO said getting health experts to regions affected by the Ebola virus outbreak was an urgent priority. That has been made difficult because international airlines, including Air France, British Airways and Emirates Airline, have suspended flights to some of the four affected countries. Air traffic into the affected areas was likely to be addressed in the next two weeks, the WHO said. By the end of September, a United Nations-led plan will be launched to improve air access to the area, it added. The WHO program will likely cost around $490 million and require contributions from national governments, some U.N. and non-governmental agencies, as well as humanitarian organizations, it said.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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