Ebola Death Toll Nearing 6,400

Close to 7,400 people have died from Ebola, the World Health Organization announced Wednesday (Dec. 10). Thus far 6,346 people have succumbed to the disease out of  17,834 cases.

Sierra Leone has outpaced Liberia to become a hotbed for the deadly fever with 397 new cases last week alone, which is three times that of neighboring Guinea and Liberia combined. The spread is being attributed to burial practices, that do not follow CDC guidelines.

The country has threatened to jail people for breaking burial rules, and/or hiding bodies. “When the family calls [the burial hotline] and it is proved that the corpse has been tampered with, we are going to quarantine the entire family or take them to holding centers for 21 days,” Ebola “Czar” Palo Conteh told the media last week. “If they are negative, they will be taken to prison for a certain period under the state of emergency. If they are positive, we will send them for treatment.

“If they die, that will be their fate. But if they survive, again, they will be sent to prison.”

The West African country has 7,897 case of Ebola, and 1,768 deaths. Liberia stands at 7,719 cases and 3, 1777 deaths as of Dec. 3, while Guinea counted 2,292 Ebola outbreaks, and 1,428 deaths. Thousands of children have been orphaned by Ebola.

“In Liberia we are beginning to see some good progress, especially in Lofa county [near where the outbreak started] and the capital,” WHO director general Margaret Chan said.

The WHO has not yet been able to get ahead of the disease, but “it’s not as bad as it was in September,” Chan pointed out. “Going forward we are now hunting the virus, chasing after the virus. Hopefully we can bring [the number of cases] down to zero.”

Photo: AP

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