West Africa: 'Huge Risk' of Ebola Spreading, UN Warns

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Africa Stop Ebola
1 December 2014

Monrovia — "There is a huge risk to the world that Ebola will spread," the head of UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Tony Bunbury, warned in an interview with the BBC. He said although the UN's "70-70-60" plan was being met in the "vast majority" of areas, in some places "including here in Sierra Leone ... we are falling short". The plan, which was unveiled in October, ensures that 70 percent of burials are conducted safely and 70 percent of suspected cases isolated, within 60 days.

The UNMEER's chief didn't say whether the goal under the plan - which set December 1 as the target date - had been met, but cautioned that the virus may "spread around this sub-region, or someone could get on a plane to Asia, Latin America, North America or Europe" unless the number of new infections was brought "down to zero".

In its latest report, the World health Organization says the global death toll from the disease now nears 7,000, with the majority of fatalities occuring in the worst-affected countries: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. In recent weeks, aid organizations - including Medecins Sans Frontieres and WHO - report that the rate of new infection is slowing in Liberia and "stable" in Guinea, but warned against complacency.

According to the BBC, Bunbury spoke as Sierra Leone "clears large areas" to make room for more burial sites. He said the UN now needs to focus its assets and capabilities in areas where they are falling short.

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