The number of Ebola cases in three West African nations may jump to between 5,000 and 10,000 a week by Dec. 1 as the deadly viral infection spreads, the World Health Organization said.
The outbreak is still expanding geographically in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and the number of cases in capital cities is increasing, Bruce Aylward, the WHO’s assistant director-general in charge of the Ebola response, said in a briefing with reporters in Geneva.
“Any sense that the great effort that’s been kicked off over the last couple of months is already starting to see an impact, that would be really, really premature,” Aylward said. “The virus is still moving geographically and still escalating in capitals, and that’s what concerns me.”
More than 8,900 people have been infected with Ebola in the three countries, with more than 4,400 deaths, he said. The number of new cases is slowing in some areas, such as Lofa County, Liberia, and Kenema and Kailahun in Sierra Leone, Aylward said.
“There’s a lot of bleak news out there about this outbreak and there should be,” Aylward said. Still, “there are a lot of things that are positive,” he said.
By Dec. 1, the WHO’s goal is for 70 percent of those who die from the disease to be buried safely and 70 percent of cases to properly managed, Aylward said. If those goals are met, that should allow for the number of new cases to decline from week to week beginning in January, he said.
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