Ebola outbreak: Response to epidemic is now 'getting an upper hand on the virus' as number of infections in Liberia slows

World Health Organisation says there has been a plateau in confirmed cases, while the number of burials and new admissions has also fallen

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The Independent Online

The number of Ebola infections appears to be slowing in Liberia, the country worst-hit by the current epidemic, the World Health organisation has said.

WHO Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward said he was confident the response to the outbreak was "getting an upper hand on the virus", although he warned the battle was still far from won.

He said there had been a plateau in laboratory-confirmed cases, while the number of burials and new admissions had also fallen.

"All the data point in the same direction," he told a news conference. "Do we feel confident that the response is now getting an upper hand on the virus? Yes, we are seeing slowing rate of new cases, very definitely."

He said: "We're seeing a reversal of that rapid rate of increase to the point that there seems to be a decline right now."

Jeremy Farrar, director of charitable foundation the Wellcome Trust, echoed the comments, although he too urged caution.

He told Reuters: "We're going through a very, very important phase. For the first time during this epidemic I think we will look on the last week as the week we put in place the jigsaw puzzle that changes the epidemic."

He added: "I'm not saying the epidemic has been affected at all yet. It hasn't. But I do think the pieces are in place now that if we live up to those ... it will be enough to turn this epidemic around."

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WHO Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward has said the number of Ebola infections appears to be slowing in Liberia (AFP)

The number of people who have died from Ebola in Liberia is almost 300 fewer than previously thought, the WHO has said. More than 200 however have been added to the toll in Sierra Leone.

The overall number of those killed in the epidemic now stands at 4,922, the WHO has said.

Meanwhile, Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, said governments who have made commitments to help combat the outbreak should deliver on their pledges.

"There is a need for more beds, more bleach, more cash in order to pay community mobilizers or people who do safe burial," she said.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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