November 20, 2014 / 6:43 AM / 5 years ago

Ebola spreading intensely in Sierra Leone as toll rises: WHO

Health workers put on protective gear outside a mosque before disinfecting it, in Bamako November 14, 2014. REUTERS/Joe Penney

GENEVA (Reuters) - The toll in the Ebola epidemic has risen to 5,420 deaths out of 15,145 cases in eight countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday, with transmission of the deadly virus still “intense and widespread” in Sierra Leone.

The figures, through Nov. 16, represent a jump of 243 deaths and 732 cases since those issued last Friday, and cases continue to be under-reported, the WHO said in its latest update.

Sierra Leone, a former British colony, confirmed 533 new cases in the week to Nov. 16, it said. “Much of this was driven by intense transmission in the country’s west and north.”

A Cuban doctor infected with Ebola in Sierra Leone will be flown to Switzerland in the next 48 hours for hospitalisation in Geneva, Swiss health authorities said on Wednesday. He is the first Cuban known to have contracted the disease.

The outbreaks in Guinea and Liberia currently appear to be driven by intense transmission in several key districts, the WHO said, citing N’Zerekore in Guinea and Montserrado in Liberia, which includes the capital Monrovia.

Authorities in Mali have now reported 6 cases of Ebola including five deaths, the WHO said. The remaining cases have been in Nigeria, Senegal, Spain and the United States.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said on Wednesday that her government has the upper hand in the fight against Ebola, but warned against complacency or any reduction in international support

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