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Possible decline in Ebola cases in Liberia

The World Health Organization says there could be a decline in the rate of Ebola cases in Liberia. The UN health agency made the announcement during a press conference in Geneva.

The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that the rate of Ebola cases in Liberia seemed to be "slowing."

Dr. Bruce Aylward, who is in charge of the WHO mission to fight the disease in West Africa, confirmed that the number of laboratory-confirmed cases had remained stable, and the number of burials had fallen.

"It appears that the trend is real in Liberia and there may indeed be a slowing of the epidemic's spread there," Aylward told reporters in Geneva.

Ebola Patient in Monrovia Liberia

Ebola patient in Monrovia, Liberia

The Liberian Red Cross had previously reported that teams were collecting far fewer bodies in the capital, Monrovia, last week compared to previous weeks. The organization also said there were more spare beds in the city's treatment centers.

The UN health agency appeared to support the evidence from the Red Cross, but warned the Ebola crisis was far from over.

"Do we feel confident that the response is now getting an upper hand on the virus? Yes, we are seeing slowing rate of new cases, very definitely," Aylward said.

Aylward added that experts would be checking to ensure the latest data was not down to cases going unreported.

Death toll expected to rise

He also told the press briefing that more than 13,600 people had been infected with the virus since the current epidemic in West Africa broke out between February and March and that the reported death toll was likely to be higher than 5,000.

The jump in case numbers was due to data being updated with old cases rather than new infections, he added.

US approves isolation measures

On Wednesday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel approved a recommendation by military leaders that all US troops returning from Ebola response missions in West Africa be kept in supervised isolation for 21 days.

The move goes beyond precautions recommended by the Obama administration for civilians.

lw/sb (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

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