New Ebola cases slowing in Liberia, but too soon to celebrate: WHO

The World Health Organization confirmed Wednesday that the rate of Ebola infections appeared to be slowing in hard-hit Liberia, but warned the crisis was far from over.

"It appears that the trend is real in Liberia and there may indeed be a slowing" of the epidemic`s spread there, WHO assistant director-general Bruce Aylward told reporters in Geneva.

Data from a range of different sources, including from funeral directors reporting fewer Ebola and other burials and from treatment centres reporting lower Ebola patient admission rates, indicated a "downward trend" across much of Liberia, he said.

Labs were also seeing a "plateauing or slight decline" in the number of confirmed cases, he said. 

Aylward added, though, that he was "terrified that the information will be misinterpreted and that people will begin to think Ebola is under control."

"That is like thinking your pet tiger is under control," he warned.

He said that a rapid scaling up of information to the community about the deadly virus, contact tracing and implementation of safe burial practices had likely contributed to the positive trend in Liberia.

WHO is set to publish the latest death toll from the Ebola outbreak that has mainly been ravaging West Africa later Wednesday, with the number of deaths expected to pass the 5,000 mark.

Aylward said that the number of cases had soared to more than 13,700 -- up from just over the 10,000 WH0 reported on Saturday -- but he stressed that the hike was mainly due to previously unreported cases being added to the statistics.

Almost all of those cases were in Guinea, Sierra Leone and of course Liberia, which alone counted 6,535, he said.

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