UK & World News

  • 28 August 2014, 12:37

Ebola Outbreak Could Infect 20,000 People

More than 20,000 people could become infected with the deadly ebola virus, the World Health Organisation says.

The UN health agency also warned that the actual number of current ebola cases in some hard-hit areas could be quadruple the existing estimate.

In what amounted to be a bleak assessment of the disease, the WHO said it believed the virus was still being spread in a "substantial number of localities".

It also expressed concern at the unprecedented number of health workers who have been killed while treating patients.

Delivering its recommendations on how to stop the spread of ebola, the WHO added: "Response activities must be adapted in areas of very intense transmission and particular attention must be given to stopping transmission in capital cities and major ports, thereby facilitating the larger response and relief effort."

Of the 3,069 cases reported since the outbreak began, 40% of them have emerged in the past three weeks, according to the latest figures.

Its update on the outbreak came shortly after GlaxoSmithKline announced it was forming a new consortium to accelerate development of a vaccine to treat ebola.

Developed in partnership with the US National Institute of Health, it is set to be tested on healthy human volunteers within the next couple of weeks to see if it is safe and effective.

As the trials take place, the pharmaceuticals giant is set to manufacture 10,000 extra doses of the vaccine which can be used by the WHO if the clinical trials are successful.

Speaking in Geneva, the agencysaid it hopes to stop the spread of ebolaacross West Africa in the next nine to six months, with a particular focus on ensuring the virus doesn't spread internationally.

Assistant director-general Dr Bruce Aylward said plan will cost 300m to implement, with 12,750 health workers needed around the globe to tend to patients.