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Ebola infection rate may be slowing in Liberia: World Health Organisation

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United Nations (Oct 30, 2014): The Ebola outbreak in the hard-hit Liberia is providing a 'glimmer of hope' as the infection rate is slowing in the country, but the crisis is far from over, the World Health Organisation has said.

"It appears the trend is real in Liberia. There may be a slowing of Ebola there," Bruce Aylward, WHO Assistant Director-General in charge of operational response, told reporters at Geneva headquarters.

Aylward, however, urged caution in interpreting the recent data saying that conclusions should not be drawn that Ebola is under control in Liberia, underscoring that while officials are 'seeing glimmers of hope', they need to study what's behind the trend.

"A slight decline in cases on a day to day basis versus getting this thing closed out is a completely different ball game," he said.

Describing Ebola as a very, very dangerous disease, Ayiward said, he was terrified that the information will be misinterpreted.

"It's like saying your pet tiger is under control," he said.

He said Ebola was 'burning hot' in parts of Sierra Leone, another country at the frontlines of the outbreak, along with Guinea.

WHO, in its latest update on Ebola issued yesterday, said 13,703 cases and 4,922 deaths had been reported as of October 27 in the six affected countries of Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Spain and the United States, along with two previously affected countries, Nigeria and Senegal.

A total of 521 health-care workers are known to have been infected with Ebola, 272 of whom have died, according to the update.

Meanwhile Head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) Tony Banbury, in a joint press conference in Ghana with United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said there had been a very significant mobilisation of international personnel, resources and capabilities to work side-by-side with the governments, and that those efforts are starting to pay off.

The crisis remains very serious, with continuous needs to build more beds, get more foreign medical teams in place, build more community care centres, and have more safe burial teams and more community mobilisation, Tony said.

"The most difficult thing is that we have to put in place every part of the response, we have to put it in place everywhere and we have to do it super-fast," he said.

"If there's a gap anywhere in the operational response, it leaves a place for this virus to continue to spread. That's a big responsibility," he added.

He said everything possible was being done to achieve the objectives of 70% of new cases under treatment and 70% of burials being done safely.