Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Bruce Aylward, WHO Assistant Director-General, speaks to the media during a press conference about the WHO briefing on the Ebola roadmap. It outlines all actions that need to be taken by affected countries and partners to bring an end to the largest and most complex recorded Ebola outbreak in history, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Thursday, August 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Keystone/Martial Trezzini)
U.N.: Ebola cases could eventually reach 20,000
Health crisis » The death toll could reach 10,000.
First Published Aug 28 2014 09:55 am • Last Updated Aug 28 2014 07:59 pm

Geneva • The Ebola outbreak in West Africa eventually could exceed 20,000 cases, more than six times as many as are known now, the World Health Organization said Thursday as the United States announced plans to test an experimental Ebola vaccine.

Currently, about half of the people infected with Ebola have died, so in a worst-case scenario the death toll could reach 10,000, the agency said, according to a plan released Thursday on how to stop the outbreak.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The U.N. agency’s latest figures show that 1,552 people have died from the virus from among the 3,069 cases reported so far in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria. However, it said the actual number of cases in many hard-hit areas may be two to four times higher than that. That suggests there could be up to 12,000 cases already.

"This far outstrips any historic Ebola outbreak in numbers. The largest outbreak in the past was about 400 cases," Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO’s assistant director-general for emergency operations, told reporters.

More than 40 percent of the cases have been identified in the last three weeks, the U.N. health agency said, adding that "the outbreak continues to accelerate." Aylward said the agency does not necessarily expect 20,000 cases, but a system must be put into place to handle such a massive increase in case numbers.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health, meanwhile, announced it will start testing an experimental Ebola vaccine in humans next week. The vaccine was developed by the U.S. government and GlaxoSmithKline and the preliminary trial will test the shot in healthy U.S. adults in Maryland. At the same time, British experts will test the same vaccine in healthy people in the U.K., Gambia and Mali.

The vaccine trial was accelerated in response to the outbreak that has ravaged West Africa and led to riots as poorly designed quarantines were put into place against tens of thousands of people.

Preliminary results to determine if the vaccine is safe could be available within months.

Aylward said the current outbreak was posing a unique challenge because there are multiple hotspots in several countries, including some in densely populated urban areas. Previous outbreaks had happened in a single, remote area.

The new plan aims to stop Ebola transmission in affected countries within six to nine months and prevent it from spreading internationally. It calls for $489 million over the next nine months and requires 750 international health workers and 12,000 national ones.


story continues below
story continues below

The goal is to take "the heat out of this outbreak" within three months, Aylward said. The next goal would be to stop the transmission of the killer virus within eight weeks of a new case being confirmed anywhere in the world.

The third major goal is to increase the preparedness for dealing with Ebola in all nations that share borders with affected countries or have major transportation hubs, he said.

Doctors Without Borders, a charity that has criticized the WHO and the international community for responding too slowly to the crisis, warned that the new U.N. plan "should not give a false sense of hope."

"As an international public health emergency, states with the capacity to help have the responsibility to mobilize resources to the affected countries, rather than watching from the sidelines with a naive hope that the situation will improve," Brice de le Vingne, the group’s director of operations, said in a statement.

Air France on Wednesday canceled its flights to Sierra Leone; the WHO has urged airlines to lift such restrictions.

"Right now there is a super risk of the response effort being choked off, being restricted, because we simply cannot get enough seats on enough airplanes to get people in and out, and rotating, to get goods and supplies in and out and rotating," Aylward said.

Nigerian authorities, meanwhile, said a man who contracted Ebola after coming into contact with a traveler from Liberia had evaded surveillance and infected a doctor in southern Nigeria who later died.

The doctor is the sixth person to die of the disease in Nigeria and marks the first fatality outside the commercial capital of Lagos, where a Liberian-American man, Patrick Sawyer, flew in in late July.

The World Food Program says it is preparing to feed 1.3 million people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in the coming months because measures to control an Ebola outbreak have cut off whole communities from markets, pushed up food prices and separated farmers from their fields. Denise Brown, the West Africa regional director for the U.N. agency, said $70 million is needed immediately to meet those needs.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.