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WHO: Ebola death toll is greatly underestimated; actual number close to 15,000 deaths


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(NaturalNews) The official Ebola death count during the current outbreak is reportedly hovering around 5,000, but the World Health Organization (WHO) says this number is likely far too low. Based on assessments of cases not reported, the United Nations arm says the actual number of Ebola deaths is likely three times higher than what is being reported, or about 15,000.

WHO estimates that the real number of Ebola cases in all three of the worst-hit countries is significantly higher than the official count. In Guinea, it is believed to be 1.5 times higher, while in Sierra Leone officials estimate the number to be double what is being reported. And in Liberia, the true number of cases is believed to be 2.5 times higher; this bumps the number of deaths up into the double-digit thousands.

Despite government claims that only between 40 and 50 percent of Ebola victims end up dying from the disease, WHO claims that the ongoing death rate has been upwards of 70 percent. This data combined with the group's projections suggest that tens of thousands of people have contracted Ebola, and most of them have or will die from it.

Ebola moving westward toward Ivory Coast, says media

Ebola is now said to be contained in both Nigeria and Senegal, with no new cases of the disease having been reported in the past 42 days. But the infection is rapidly moving westward, report several media sources, and is still ravaging many areas of both Liberia and Guinea, including in Guinea's Kankan district, a major trade route with Mali.

WHO says there are currently 82 people being monitored in Mali after a toddler died last week of Ebola. The UN arm says it has already sent officials to the country to evaluate the country's "Ebola preparedness" status. Mali is reportedly the sixth West African country to report a case of the disease since the outbreak began late last year.

The UN hopes to implement its "70-70-60" plan by December 1, which involves isolating at least 70 percent of known Ebola cases in West Africa and safely burying at least 70 percent of those who die. The "60" part of the plan represents the 60-day deadline from the time the plan began to achieving these goals. By January 1, the UN hopes to bring these numbers to 100 percent.

WHO still trying to figure out why so many healthcare workers are contracting Ebola

One unanswered question deals with the high volume of healthcare workers, most of whom are said to be properly protected, that are contracting Ebola. Of the 443 healthcare workers in West Africa who are known to have contracted Ebola, 244 of them have died, says WHO, which is the subject of an ongoing investigation.

"Early indications are that a substantial proportion of infections occurred outside the context of Ebola treatment and care," says WHO.

WHO's larger goal is to create 4,388 isolation beds at 50 Ebola treatment centers throughout the region to care for infected patients. Thus far, only 1,126 have been established, representing 25 percent of the goal, while the number of commitments so far from foreign aid workers are only enough to cover 30 of the 50 units.

"Unfortunately, we don't have good data from a lot of areas," added Anthony Banbury from the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, or UNMEER, during a phone interview with The Associated Press about the current status of Ebola in West Africa. "We don't know exactly what is happening."

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