GENEVA (Reuters) – Liberia may be seeing a decline in the spread of Ebola, with falls in the number of burials and new admissions as well as a plateau in laboratory-confirmed cases, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.
“Do we feel confident that the response is now getting an upper hand on the virus? Yes, we are seeing slowing rate of new cases, very definitely,” WHO Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward told a news conference.
“We need to be careful here. This thing hasn’t dropped off the cliff like that. We’re seeing a reversal of that rapid rate of increase to the point that there seems to be a decline right now.”
He said there had been 13,703 cases in eight countries and the reported death toll, to be published later on Wednesday, was likely to be over 5,000. A jump of more than 3,000 in the number of cases since Saturday was largely due to the data being updated with old cases rather than new cases, he said.
Aylward said he would be “terrified” if wrong conclusions were read into his statement and Ebola was thought to be under control. “It’s like saying your pet tiger is under control.”
But he said that if current trends continued, the worst hit countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone should be able to “comfortably” meet a target to scale up Ebola-containment measures by Dec. 1.
Last week Mali became the sixth West African country to report a case of the disease, which has an incubation period of two to 21 days. The patient, a two-year-old girl, died after traveling by bus from Guinea with her grandmother, with at least one stopover, in the capital Bamako.
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