Ebola death toll ‘rises to 4,447′

Health workers in protective equipment near Rokupa Hospital, Freetown on 6 October 2014.The WHO says a slowdown in the rate of new cases in some areas may be due to behavioural changes

The death toll from the Ebola virus outbreak has risen to 4,447, with the large majority of victims in West Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

WHO assistant director-general Bruce Aylward also said there could be up to 10,000 new cases a week within two months if efforts were not stepped up,

But the rate of new infections in some areas has slowed down, he added.

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

There have been 8,914 cases overall, including the fatal cases, and the WHO says it expects this number to top 9,000 by the end of the week.

The WHO estimates its figures by taking the numbers of confirmed cases and multiplying them – from Guinea by 1.5, from Sierra Leone by 2 and from Liberia by 2.5 – to account for under-reporting.

In other developments:

  • The UK begins Ebola screening at London’s Heathrow airport
  • A UN health worker, originally from Sudan, dies in Germany after contracting the disease in Liberia
  • Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, said they were donating $25m (£16m) to the US Centers for Disease Control to fight Ebola
  • A Spanish nurse remains in critical condition after becoming the first person to contract the disease outside of Africa last week, although doctors say there are signs of improvement
  • A medic working for Sierra Leone’s army at a peacekeeping training centre in Freetown tests positive for Ebola

Ebola patients treated outside West Africa*

Map showing Ebola cases treated outside West Africa

*In all cases but two, first in Madrid and later in Dallas, the patient was infected with Ebola while in West Africa.

How not to catch Ebola:

  • Avoid direct contact with sick patients as the virus is spread through contaminated body fluids
  • Wear goggles to protect eyes
  • Clothing and clinical waste should be incinerated and any medical equipment that needs to be kept should be decontaminated
  • People who recover from Ebola should abstain from sex or use condoms for three months

Why Ebola is so dangerous

How Ebola attacks

Ebola: Mapping the outbreak


Still spreading

Mr Aylward told reporters in Geneva that the WHO, which is the UN’s health agency, was concerned to see the virus was still spreading in the capitals of the three worst-affected countries.

He said the death rate in the current Ebola outbreak was 70%, describing it as a “high-mortality disease”.

He said 95% of cases were limited to areas in the “historic epicentre” of the outbreak, where the rate of new infections appeared to be slowing.

However, he stressed that it would be too early to read this as success.

The latest WHO projections suggested there could be between 5,000 and 10,000 cases a week in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone by December.

“It could be higher, it could be lower but it’s going to be in that ball park,” he said.

“In certain areas we’re seeing disease coming down, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to go to zero.”

Countries neighbouring the three worst-affected states are “at risk” and it is important for them to prepare for the possibility of Ebola cases, the WHO said.


Ebola deaths: Confirmed, probable and suspected

Ebola infograph

Source: WHO

Note: figures have occasionally been revised down as suspected or probable cases are found to be unrelated to Ebola. They do not include one death in the US recorded on 8 October.