World Health Organisation warns there could be 10,000 Ebola cases every week by Christmas

Officials also predicted that the number of cases is likely to exceed 9,000 by the end of this week

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The World Health Organisation has warned that could be 10,000 new cases of Ebola per week within two months.

WHO officials are also predicting that the number of cases is likely to exceed 9,000 by the end of this week, as the virus continues to spread rapidly across West Africa.

Officials also noted that the death rate for the outbreak had increased to 70 per cent. It was previously around 50 per cent.

Bruce Aylward, WHO Assistant Director General, said their forecasts suggest there may be between 5,000 and 10,000 new cases a week by December.

In remarks quoted by Sky he said: “It's impossible to look into a glass ball and say we're going to have this many or that many [cases] but we anticipate the number of cases occurring per week by that time to be somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 per week.

"It could be higher, it could lower but it's going to be in that ball park," he told reporters from WHO's Geneva headquarters.

A total of 4,447 people have now died from 8,914 known Ebola cases, mostly in west Africa according to the WHO’s latest figures released today.

Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have been hardest hit by the current outbreak of the virus.

WHO officials have repeatedly said Ebola cases are under-reported in these three hardest-hit countries and that understanding the scale and pace of the outbreak is crucial to stopping it.

A Liberian burial squad carry the body of an Ebola victim in Marshall, Margini county, Liberia

"We adjust for the numbers reported," Aylward said, explaining the organisation multiplies the numbers from Guinea by 1.5, from Sierra Leone by two and from Liberia by 2.5 to get a more accurate picture.

While there are signs that rates of infection are slowing in some of the worst-hit areas, Mr Aylward said the disease has now reached "more districts, counties and prefectures" than it had a month ago, and said case numbers would continue to rise.

He also stressed it would be "really, really premature" to read success into the apparent slowing numbers in some areas. In particular Nigeria has been trumpeted as a success story in the fight against the deadly virus.

Additional reporting from PA