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Guinea, Liberia hit Ebola goals

December 1, 2014

According to the World Health Organization, Liberia and Guinea have met a target for preventing Ebola’s spread. The WHO’s assistant director-general says Sierra Leone has fallen short but could get on track shortly.

Ebola Conakry European Union Helfer Krankenlager Isolierstation
Image: European Union/Kenzo Tribouillard

Dr. Bruce Aylward, the assistant director-general of the World Health Organization, told reporters in Geneva that the WHO's ambitious plan to stop the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa has shown it possible to quickly reduce the "yawning gap" between disease levels and the capacity to respond. Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Aylward said both Guinea and Liberia had met a WHO target of isolating 70 percent of Ebola cases and safely burying 70 percent of those who die by December 1.

Aylward added that Sierra Leone still did not yet have enough beds in treatment centers to isolate Ebola patients, but had probably met the targets in the west of the country. He said he expected levels nationwide to improve "in the coming weeks," with many new facilities scheduled for opening in that time frame.

"That capacity at the district level is strong and getting stronger in Sierra Leone, and that's why I think the prognosis is actually very good," Aylward said at the press conference on Monday, praising the government's efforts to combat the epidemic. Aylward added, however, that all the good news "doesn't mean you're automatically going to get to zero" cases and eliminate unsafe burials without more cooperation among responders.

Pressekonferenz WHO Bruce Aylward Ebola 01.12.2014
Aylward said the region had begun to stem the crisis, and was optimisticImage: Reuters/D. Balibouse

Ebola has infected nearly 16,000 people, according to the WHO, almost all of them in the three West African countries. Nearly 5,700 people have succumbed to the virus.

The hemorrhagic fever can be treated but has no surefire cure, though a new vaccine has shown promise in recent trials. Ebola spreads through contact with bodily fluids.

mkg/mg (Reuters, AFP)