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(Bloomberg) -- New cases of Ebola in West Africa dropped to less than 100 a week for the first time since June, signaling progress toward ending an epidemic that has lasted more than a year and claimed almost 9,000 lives.
A total of 99 confirmed cases were reported in the week ended Jan. 25 in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, the World Health Organization said in a statement today.
As the caseload declines, efforts to curb the outbreak have shifted from building treatment centers to focusing more on identifying people with Ebola quickly to curtail the spread of the illness. Health officials have warned that a single new case has the potential to rapidly reignite the outbreak.
“The response to the Ebola epidemic has now moved to a second phase, as the focus shifts from slowing transmission to ending the epidemic,” the WHO said.
Confirmed Ebola cases declined to 65 in Sierra Leone and four in Liberia during the week, while Guinea reported 30 new cases, up from 20 the previous week. The prefecture of Mali in northern Guinea, which borders Senegal, reported its first case, the WHO said.
The fatality rate for those who make it to a hospital is 54 percent to 62 percent in the three most-affected countries, and there is “no indication of improvement over time,” the Geneva- based group said. A total of 816 health workers have been infected in the three countries, and 488 have died.
Since December 2013, the virus has infected more than 22,000 people and killed more than 8,800.
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