The global Ebola infection tally has surpassed 15,000. Sierra Leone confirmed 533 new cases in the week to November 16, accounting for much of the increase.
Cases of Ebola reached 15,145, with 5,420 deaths, through November 16 - almost all in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, which reported the steepest uptick - the World Health Organization announced Wednesday. Sierra Leone has also reported 63 Ebola deaths since Friday.
"Much of this was driven by intense transmission in the country's west and north," the WHO announced. Sierra Leone has only managed to isolate 13 percent of Ebola patients, the agency's figures show.
Ebola does not transmit easily, but it has particularly spread in the capital, Freetown, which accounted for 168, or nearly one-third of Sierra Leone's 533 confirmed cases in the week to November 16, and nearby Port Loko. A doctor, the first Cuban infected with Ebola, who caught the virus in Sierra Leone will fly to Switzerland in the next 48 hours for hospitalization in Geneva. Five doctors from Sierra Leone have died of Ebola.
Authorities in Mali have reported 6 Ebola cases including five deaths, according to the WHO. Nigeria, Senegal, Spain and the United States have reported the remaining cases.
'Economic side effects'
The latest figures show 243 total new deaths and 732 diagnoses overall since numbers issued Friday. WHO has cautioned that underreporting remains an issue. Despite the situation in Sierra Leone, the virus in Guinea and Liberia currently appears to have improved slightly, with transmissions concentrated in several key districts, the WHO announced, citing N'Zerekore and Macenta in Guinea and Montserrado in Liberia, which includes the capital, Monrovia.
Though the rate of Ebola's spread seems to have decreased in Liberia, the virus has left nearly half of the country's workforce off the clock since the onset of the current outbreak just a few months ago, the World Bank announced Wednesday. The virus has killed more than 2,800 people in Liberia, or 54 percent of the overall total, ravaging the local economies and leaving many with too little money to buy food, according to the World Bank. However, the body announced that the economic hit to Africa had not proved as bad as initially feared.
"Even those living in the most remote communities in Liberia, where Ebola has not been detected, are suffering the economic side effects of this terrible disease," said Ana Revenga, senior director of the Poverty Global Practice at the World Bank. "Relief efforts must focus not only on those directly affected by the virus, but also on those in the poorest communities for whom market access, mobility and food security continue to get worse."
mkg/bw (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)