Ebola centers fill faster than they can be opened

2014-08-15 19:05
Health workers wearing protective clothing and equipment, await patients to screen against the deadly Ebola virus at the Kenema Government Hospital situated in the Eastern Province in Kenema, Sierra Leone.  (Michael Duff, AP)

Health workers wearing protective clothing and equipment, await patients to screen against the deadly Ebola virus at the Kenema Government Hospital situated in the Eastern Province in Kenema, Sierra Leone. (Michael Duff, AP)

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Dakar - Beds in Ebola treatment centres are filling up faster than they can be provided, evidence that an outbreak in West Africa is far more severe than the numbers show, an official with the World Health Organization said Friday.

The outbreak sweeping Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria is already the largest and deadliest ever. But the World Health Organisation said on Thursday that official counts of the dead and infected may still "vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak."

The flood of patients into every newly opened treatment centre is evidence that the numbers aren't keeping up, Gregory Hartl, a spokesperson for the UN health agency, said from Geneva.

Hartl said that an 80-bed treatment centre opened in Liberia's capital in recent days filled up immediately. The next day, dozens more people showed up to be treated.

Meanwhile, he said that experts who are going house-to-house in Kenema, Sierra Leone, in search of infected people are discovering more cases.

According to WHO figures, the outbreak has killed more than 1 060 people and sickened nearly 2 000. The agency has said it is prepared for the outbreak to last for several more months.

Ebola, which causes a high fever, bleeding and vomiting, has no cure and no licensed treatment. The disease is usually found in eastern or central Africa, typically in rural, isolated communities, where outbreaks tend to be "self-limiting," Hartl said.

By contrast, the current outbreak spread quickly to cities and the capitals of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, making it difficult to stop its spread.

Read more on:    who  |  guinea  |  sierra leone  |  nigeria  |  siberia  |  ebola

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