UN to radically scale up fight against Ebola

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Monrovia: The UN has vowed to radically scale up support to fight the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa and said more health workers will be brought to Liberia to deal with the disease.

"More health workers will be brought to the country to deal with the outbreak. The United Nations is looking at ways to radically scale up support to fight Ebola," David Nabarro, senior UN system coordinator for Ebola, who was appointed by the world body's secretary-general to establish how best the UN can support affected communities, told reporters in the Liberian capital, Monrovia.

He was speaking at the end of his two-day visit to the country, the first leg of a visit to all Ebola-affected countries in West Africa.

Speaking to the UN News Centre before heading out on his first mission to West Africa, Nabarro, said: "As we look forward into the future, we are concerned that the outbreak will continue to spread and perhaps will not be brought quickly under control."

However, Keiji Fukuda, the World Health Organisation (WHO) assistant director-general for health security, who is travelling with Nabarro, said at the press conference: "This is not a hopeless situation."

The Geneva-based WHO Friday said in its latest update that the magnitude of the Ebola outbreak, especially in Liberia and Sierra Leone, has been underestimated for a number of reasons.

In parts of Liberia, WHO said, a phenomenon is occurring that has never before been seen in an Ebola outbreak. As soon as a new treatment facility is opened, it is immediately filled with patients, many of whom were not previously identified.

"This phenomenon strongly suggests the existence of an invisible caseload of patients who are not being detected by the surveillance system," the UN health agency said.

The WHO announced that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa has led to 1,427 deaths out of 2,615 known cases, including two new cases reported Friday in Nigeria.

In its latest update, the WHO reported 142 new laboratory-confirmed, probable or suspected cases of Ebola and 77 more deaths from four affected countries -- Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

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