GENEVA/FREETOWN – The spread of Ebola seems to have stabilized in Guinea, one of three West African states worst-hit by the disease, but a lack of beds and resistance in affected communities means its advance continues elsewhere, the World Health Organization said.
Underscoring drastic measures being taken to halt the worst outbreak on record of the deadly virus, Sierra Leone put three more districts — home to over a million people and major mining operations — under indefinite quarantine.
An outbreak that began in a remote corner of Guinea has taken hold of much of neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone, killing nearly 3,000 people in just over six months. Senegal and Nigeria have recorded cases but, for now, have contained them.
“The upward epidemic trend continues in Sierra Leone and most probably also in Liberia,” the WHO said in its latest update on the disease, which has killed about half of those confirmed and suspected to have been infected.
“However, the situation in Guinea, although still of grave concern, appears to have stabilized: between 75 and 100 new confirmed cases have been reported in each of the past five weeks,” it added.
Experts are trying to straighten out data from the ground, where already weak local health systems have been overrun by one of the world’s deadliest diseases, muddying information on the current situation.
But most warn that the number of cases recorded so far represents just a fraction of the real total, with many victims unable to find places to get treated or unwilling to come forward due to fears over the disease.
WHO said earlier this week that the total number of infections could reach 20,000 by November, months earlier than previously forecast. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned between 550,000 and 1.4 million people might be infected in the region by January if nothing is done.
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