W. Africa Ebola outbreak ‘totally out of control,’ says U.N. health organisation

The number of deaths attributed to an epidemic of Ebola virus in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone stood at 467 by Monday, out of 759 known cases in total, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. The outbreak is already the largest and deadliest ever, according to the WHO, which previously put the death toll at 399 as of June 23, out of 635 cases. The 17 per cent rise in deaths and 20 per cent jump in cases in the space of a week will add urgency to an emergency meeting of 11 West African health ministers in Accra, Ghana, on Wednesday and Thursday, which seeks to coordinate a regional response.

Containment of this outbreak requires a strong response in the countries, and especially along their shared border areas.

World Health Organization statement

The outbreak in West Africa has left some of the world’s poorest states, with porous borders and weak health systems, undermined by war and misrule, grappling with one of the most lethal and contagious diseases on the planet. The WHO said in a statement that three main factors were contributing to the spread of the disease: Burials of victims in accordance with cultural practices and traditional beliefs in rural communities; dense populations around capital cities of Guinea and Liberia; and commercial and social activities along the borders of the three countries.