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Ebola continues to spread

July 11, 2014

The WHO says the ebola virus is continuing to spread in West Africa. In its latest report on the epidemic, the UN agency said there were high numbers of new cases and deaths in the region.

Westafrika Sierra Leone Ebola Virus ausgebrochen Ärzte
Image: Reuters

The World Health Organization said on Friday that the deadly ebola virus is still spreading cross-border between Sierra Leone, Liberia, and to a lesser extent, Guinea.

The WHO also said between July 6-8, there were 44 new cases bringing the total in West Africa's first outbreak of the disease to 888 cases including 539 deaths since February.

"The epidemic trend in Liberia and Sierra Leone remains precarious with high numbers of new cases and deaths being reported," the UN agency reported.

The WHO also said a regional center would be set up in Guinea to coordinate the response to the Ebola outbreak.

"The sub-regional center will be responsible for ensuring effective use and deployment of limited and scarce, but highly critical resources based on prioritization and agreed objectives," the agency said in a statement.

Monitoring and treating the disease has proved a challenge for international aid agencies due to a "deep mistrust" of foreign doctors by certain communities in the region.

Traditional practices, including touching bodies during funerals, were also reported to have contributed to the spread of the virus.

Campaign to stop deadly disease

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) set up an Ebola solidarity fund at a summit in Ghana's capital on Thursday to promote a regional approach to the epidemic.

"We must do everything within our means and power to defeat this deadly disease. We must exercise vigilance and caution and avoid any panic or misinformation," Ghanaian President John Mahama, also the current chairman of ECOWAS, said in a speech in Accra.

Nigeria also supported the move and committed $3.5 million (2.57 million euros) to the affected states.

Ebola causes vomiting and diarrhoea, impairs kidney and liver function and may cause internal and external bleeding.

It can kill up to 90 percent of those infected and is spread by close contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected people - there is no treatment or vaccine.

lw/msh (AFP, Reuters)