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Ebola outbreak now "unprecedented" - WHO

Tuesday September 9th, 2014

Efforts to control the Ebola outbreak in Liberia are failing, the World Health Organisation warned yesterday.

In one central county some 1,000 beds are needed to manage the crisis, the WHO warned, calling for development agencies to step up their efforts by as much as four times.

The warning came as the UK took steps to set up a 50-bed clinic in Sierra Leone.

WHO officials said all hospitals and clinics in Liberia were overwhelmed - and efforts to prevent the spread of infection were failing.

It found that in the capital Monrovia, taxis roam the streets packed with families looking vainly for hospital beds.

The result is that the next passengers are put at risk - as the vehicles are rarely disinfected properly.

Monrovia has just 240 beds and another 260 are in the pipeline - but it needs twice as many "urgently," WHO said.

It spoke of a "dire emergency with unprecedented dimensions of human suffering."

Some 79 health workers have now died in Liberia - which had only a few dozen native doctors at the time the outbreak began.

A WHO spokesman said: "Conventional Ebola control interventions are not having an adequate impact in Liberia, though they appear to be working elsewhere in areas of limited transmission, most notably in Nigeria, Senegal, and the Democratic Republic of Congo."

* WHO was set to evacuate one of its doctors from Freetown, Sierra Leone, after he succumbed to the virus.

The UK centre near Freetown will be built by military engineers and will provide 50 beds for local people and 12 beds for healthcare workers who become ill. It will take at least eight weeks to set up.

Tags: Africa | Flu & Viruses | UK News | World Health

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