Geneva: Liberia, the country worst hit by West Africa`s Ebola epidemic, should see thousands of new cases in coming weeks as the virus spreads exponentially, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday.
The epidemic, the worst since the disease was discovered in 1976, has killed some 2,100 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria and has also spread to Senegal.
The WHO believes it will take six to nine months to contain and may infect up to 20,000 people. In Liberia, the disease has already killed 1,089 people - more than half of all deaths reported since March in this regional epidemic.
"Transmission of the Ebola virus in Liberia is already intense and the number of new cases is increasing exponentially," the U.N. agency said in a statement. "The number of new cases is moving far faster than the capacity to manage them in Ebola-specific treatment centres."
Fourteen of Liberia`s 15 counties have reported confirmed cases. As soon as a new Ebola treatment centre is opened, it immediately overflows with patients.
"In Monrovia, taxis filled with entire families, of whom some members are thought to be infected with the Ebola virus, crisscross the city, searching for a treatment bed. There are none," it said.
In Montserrado County, which includes the capital Monrovia and is home to more than one million people, a WHO investigative team estimated that 1,000 beds are urgently needed for Ebola patients, the statement said.
Motorbike-taxis and regular taxis have become "a hot source" of Ebola transmission.
Liberia`s government announced on Monday it was extending a nationwide nighttime curfew imposed last month to curb the spread of the disease.
Sierra Leone last week ordered a four-day countrywide "lockdown" starting Sept. 18 as part of tougher efforts to halt the spread of Ebola.