Transmission rates still 'disturbing', says UN's Ebola envoy

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A safe burial site for Ebola victims in Freetown, Sierra Leone. UN Photo/Ari Gaitanis

Ebola numbers are still "disturbing" and the response to the Mali outbreak must be dealt with quickly and robustly, the UN's top envoy for the disease has warned.

Dr David Nabarro said it was "absolutely necessary" to identify new cases of the virus in Mali and encourage infected people to seek medical help.

If done quickly, it's very unlikely that the virus will get established there, he added.

His comments come after Mali president Ibrahim Keita asked for the UN's help to fight the latest outbreak.

The UN expert also said that while disease transmission was slowing down in some areas of Liberia, the same couldn't be said for parts of Sierra Leone and Guinea.

"In some parts of the affected countries, the outbreak is definitely slowing down in terms of transmission rates; in other parts it's still being transmitted very rapidly, the numbers of cases are still rising at a rate that we really are disturbed about."  (19″)

There's no question of the UN "getting the upper hand" on Ebola, Mr Nabarro said.

But he added that Ebola had retreated in places where communities had "taken ownership of the issue" and changed their habits to reduce transmission risks.

This included changing burial and healing practices and reducing touching when people are sick, he said.

Official UN figures put the number of Ebola victims at more than 5,400.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration:  1’23″

 

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