Fifty new Ebola cases and 25 deaths in West Africa - WHO

by Reuters
Tuesday, 8 July 2014 17:57 GMT

Health workers take blood samples for Ebola virus testing at a screening tent in the local government hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone, June 30, 2014 REUTERS/Tommy Trenchard

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* WHO sees "mixed picture" for disease in West Africa

* American dies in Ghana, Ebola suspected but not proved (Adds death of American believed to be infected with Ebola)

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA, July 8 (Reuters) - Fifty new cases of Ebola and 25 deaths have been reported in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea since July 3, as the deadly virus continues to spread in families, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

In a statement, the United Nations agency said that the latest figures from health ministries in the three countries showed a total of 844 cases including 518 deaths in the epidemic that began in February.

Guinea's ministry reported two deaths since July 3, but no new cases in the past week, the WHO said, calling the situation in the affected region of West Africa a "mixed picture".

Sierra Leone accounted for 34 of the new cases and 14 deaths, while Liberia reported 16 new cases and 9 deaths, it said, adding: "These numbers indicate that active viral transmission continues in the community."

WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib, speaking to a Geneva news briefing earlier on Tuesday, said: "This means that the two main modes of transmission are home care, people who care for their relative at home, and during funerals, are still ongoing."

"If we don't stop the transmission in the several hotspots in the three countries we will not be able to say that we control the outbreak," she said.

A U.S. citizen who was suspected of having Ebola because he fell ill after travelling to Sierra Leone and Guinea died on Monday in Ghana. The man, who has not been named, was in quarantine at a clinic in the capital Accra.

A senior official at the Ghana Health Service said late on Monday the man did not have Ebola but that further tests were being done. However, a U.S. official said on Tuesday the tests were not definitive.

"We are aware that the deceased was tested for Ebola but the official cause of death has not yet been confirmed. Test results thus far have been inconclusive," a U.S. State Department official said in an email.

If confirmed, it would be the first case of Ebola in Ghana.

West African countries and international health organisations adopted a fresh strategy last Thursday to fight the world's deadliest Ebola epidemic to date. Measures include better surveillance to detect the virus and enhancing cross-border cooperation. (Additional reporting by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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