The World Health Organization says the number of reported Ebola cases has surpassed 13,700, a jump of more than 30% since the last numbers were released four days ago.
Dr. Bruce Aylward, assistant director-general of the WHO, said the big increase in cases is likely because of previous under-reporting.
As of today, there have been 13,703 reported cases of Ebola, the organization tweeted, with 13,676 of those in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three most affected countries in this outbreak.
The fatality rate in those countries has remained consistently around 70%, Aylward said.
Speaking to reporters in Geneva, Aylward said there is some indication that safe burials and education efforts in Liberia are helping bring the numbers down, but he cautioned against assuming that Ebola was coming under control there or in any of the three countries most affected by the disease.
“Getting a slight decrease in the number of cases on a day-to-day basis versus getting this thing closed out is a completely different ballgame,” Aylward said, adding that he is “terrified” people will misinterpret the data and think officials are successfully containing the disease.
“That’s like saying your pet tiger is under control,” he told reporters. “A couple of burials go wrong in a couple of places, and you start a whole set of new transmission chains and the disease starts trending upward again.”
He noted some encouraging signs, including the opening of the first community care center in Port Loko, Sierra Leone, a smaller facility designed to isolate and provide basic care to potential Ebola patients. Aylward said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the apparent week-to-week decrease of new Ebola cases in Liberia, and the opening up of available beds there.
According to Aylward, the WHO hopes to increase the capacity of Ebola wards in those three countries from 1,047 currently to 3,100 in a total of 37 facilities by the end of November. Ultimately, Aylward has said, the WHO hopes to step up capacity to 4,700 beds in 56 Ebola treatment centers, but is still seeking foreign medical teams to staff them all.
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