WHO's New Ebola Report Is Grim

Experts fear 'complete breakdown in civic society'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2014 6:31 AM CDT
WHO's New Ebola Report Is Grim
A woman wears protective clothing during a tour of one of the Ebola centers in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Sept. 23, 2014.   (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

The World Health Organization's latest report on the Ebola outbreak warns of a threat well beyond what was feared. Last month, the WHO suggested that within nine months, the world could see 20,000 cases; now it points to that many cases as soon as early November, barring drastic action against the virus, the New York Times reports. The death rate, the report says, is about 70%; earlier assessments had put it at 50%, NBC News reports. Instead of a temporary outbreak, the WHO suggests, West Africa could see an endemic one—one that could see the region become a "reservoir" of the virus, as the Times puts it.

The new report, the work of more than 50 scientists, was published alongside an editorial by two experts that warns of "a very real danger of a complete breakdown in civic society" in a region whose health system is already beyond capacity. That editorial slams a "highly inadequate and late global response" to an "avoidable crisis." The authors, one of whom helped discover Ebola, say a "massive increase" in that response is needed, "way beyond what is being planned." There have been some 2,803 reported deaths from the outbreak so far, but numbers could be far higher, as graves in Sierra Leone's capital suggest: While the health ministry has reported 10 deaths in Freetown, a local cemetery has seen 110 victims buried in the past eight days, its supervisor tells the Times. (More Ebola stories.)

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