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WHO says Ebola cases, deaths vastly underestimated

2014-08-18 15:30 Xinhua Web Editor: Gu Liping

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that the numbers of reported cases and deaths "vastly underestimate" the magnitude of the Ebola outbreak, a UN spokesperson said on Friday.

The WHO is coordinating a massive scaling up of the international response, marshalling support from individual countries, disease control agencies, agencies within the UN system, and others, Deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters here at a daily news briefing.

The organization, in its latest update on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa dated Aug. 14, said no new cases have been detected in Nigeria, attributing the outcome to extensive contact tracing and monitoring, implemented with support from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, it added, "staff at the outbreak sites see evidence that the numbers of reported cases and deaths vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak."

The most recent statistics compiled by the WHO showed that the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa continues to escalate, with 1,975 cases and 1,069 deaths reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

Meanwhile, the UN agency also reiterated on Thursday its advice against travel bans to and from affected countries, as Ebola is not airborne and can only be transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of a person who is sick with the disease, according to the spokesperson.

On the humanitarian side, the UN World Food Program has announced it was planning to provide food for the one million people locked down in the quarantine zones, where the borders of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone intersect, and several countries have agreed to support the provision of priority food staples for this population, Haq added.

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