" --IANS/EFE"
Geneva, Aug 28 (IANS/EFE) The number of people infected with the Ebola virus in Western Africa could reach 20,000, six times more than the current estimates, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned Thursday.

This is one of the main conclusions the WHO presented Thursday in its assessment of the epidemic, in which suggestions and guidelines to contain the virus are included.

To date, WHO has recorded 3,069 cases of Ebola virus disease and 1,552 deaths in West Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and, to a lesser extent, Nigeria).

The UN body believes that the countries affected by the virus should take action aimed at strengthening laboratories, medical staff and the ability to respond to those in critical situation.

Some particular areas require urgent action, such as infection control training, the NGO added.

The WHO assumed that if the correct emergency programmes are applied, West African countries may contain the contagion in a period of eight weeks.

The organisation estimates that $490 million are needed in the next six months in order to implement contingency plans to contain the virus.

This budget does not include money needed to maintain essential services in the most affected countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone), along with the costs to restore damaged sanitation facilities.

Ebola, which is transmitted by direct contact with blood and bodily fluids of infected persons or animals, causes severe bleeding and can have a mortality rate of 90 percent.

--IANS/EFE

ab/bg


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