Freetown: The United Nations' Ebola response mission admitted today it was going to miss its target for beating the deadly epidemic in Sierra Leone due to a chronic shortage of hospital beds.
The UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) set a "70-70-60" goal in early October to isolate and treat 70 per cent of suspected Ebola cases in west Africa and safely bury 70 per cent of the dead within 60 days.
"The 70-70-60 national strategy is unlikely to be met on December 1," Amadu Kamara, UNMEER's crisis manager for Sierra Leone, told a news conference in the capital Freetown.
"We will not be able to meet the deadline because we've not been active in isolating possible infected cases by taking them to holding and treatment centres.
"There have been a combination of factors including finding treatment centres and beds for infected people."
UNMEER chief Anthony Banbury warned in October that Ebola numbers risked rising "dramatically" and overwhelming the response if the target, announced jointly with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Bank, wasn't achieved.
Just 13 per cent of patients with Ebola were isolated between October 20 and November 9 in Sierra Leone, according to the WHO.
The agency estimated last week that the country would need 1,864 treatment centre beds by December 1, while just 356 beds are currently available.
"One of the biggest obstacles to opening more beds is lack of skilled staff trained in infection prevention and control," the WHO said.