WHO appeals for more funds as Ebola deaths pass 5,000

Ebola Outbreak

Health workers unload the lifeless body of a man suspected of contracting the Ebola virus, as they carry him to a grave site on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh, File)

At least 5,160 people have died in the most widespread Ebola outbreak in history, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. It also said that of the $260 million needed to combat the disease, just under half had been received and another 15 percent had been pledged, leaving more than $93 million still needed.

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The vast majority of the more than 14,000 sickened have been in the West African countries of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

There are some signs that the rate of new infections may be slowing overall in Guinea and Liberia, but there are still areas of those countries where transmission remains high, and they are surging in Sierra Leone, the health agency said. While the response to Ebola is ramping up, it is still insufficient: In Sierra Leone, for instance, less than 40 percent of cases are in isolation, according to WHO estimates.

Worryingly, the virus has continued to pop up in new places, both within the most affected countries and outside their borders. The most recent example is a new Ebola cluster that Malian authorities reported Wednesday — an alarming setback as the country tries to limit the epidemic ravaging other West African nations.

A nurse working at a clinic in the Malian capital Bamako died Tuesday, and tests later showed she had Ebola, Communications Minister Mahamadou Camara said Wednesday. Two other people are also believed to have died of Ebola, though no tests were ever done on them to confirm the disease: an imam, whom the nurse treated at the Bamako clinic, and a friend who came to visit the man there.

The announcement of the new cases came just a day after Malian health authorities said there had been no other reported cases — let alone deaths — since a 2-year-old girl who had traveled to Mali from Guinea succumbed to the virus in late October.

At least 75 people are under quarantine following the new cases in Bamako, including patients and staff from the hospital, said Ousmane Doumbia, secretary-general for the Malian health ministry. Several of the patients under quarantine are troops serving in the country’s U.N. peacekeeping force who were being treated for wounds at the clinic, the force said in a statement.

On Wednesday, some health workers at an Ebola treatment center run by Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone briefly went on strike over a dispute with the government about bonuses they had been promised. Although the medical charity employs the staff, the health ministry pays them.

Even during the strike, the charity was able to maintain a minimum number of staff to keep the clinic running, Doctors Without Borders said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military has said it is scaling back its planned Ebola response deployments to Liberia from 4,000 troops to 3,000 because there are a greater-than-expected number of contractors available in Liberia to provide support like construction work.

Article based on an Associated Press report.

Mali hospital sealed off after two die from virus

Authorities in Mali are scrambling to contain a fresh outbreak of Ebola. Two more people have died from the virus in Bamako, a patient, and the nurse who treated him. The clinic is currently on lockdown reportedly with 30 people still inside. CCTV America’s Robert Nagila reported this story in Bamako, Mali.

Armed guards have sealed off Mali’s top hospital, Pasteur Clinic, after news broke overnight that a 25-year-old nurse died of Ebola after tending a Muslim cleric, from Guinea. The cleric also died.

Locals say many patients fled from Pasteur Clinic before it was locked down. Authorities are not saying just how many people they’re trying to trace. Mali’s health ministry is calling for calm as residents express fear.

It is still not clear at what point authorities knew that the two victims had the Ebola virus. As late as Tuesday, authorities had announced that they expected to declare the country free of the Ebola virus, by the weekend.

The first case of Ebola in Mali was a 2-year-old girl who traveled to Mali from Guinea and later died. More than 100 people have been held under quarantine since then, though most are now released. The latest deaths are not linked to the girl.

Ebola survivor says battle against virus must continue

One U.S. Ebola survivor said that the world cannot let up in its battle against the virus. CCTV America’s Hendrik Sybrandy interviewed Nancy Writebol, an American missionary who was infected by Ebola while traveling in West Africa.

Writebol says she is also worried that strict quarantines of medical workers returning from affected areas could discourage other doctors and nurses from joining the fight.

Follow Hendrik Sybrandy on Twitter @hsybrandy