UN Chief Ban Ki-moon tours Ebola-hit states as toll soars over 7,000

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Margaret Chan’s temperature is checked in Conakry

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organisation said as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon continued his tour of Ebola-affected countries in West Africa.

The three countries hit hardest by Ebola have now recorded 7,373 deaths, up from 6,900 on Wednesday, according to WHO figures. A total of 392 of the new deaths were in Sierra Leone, where Ebola is spreading the fastest.

The new totals include confirmed, probable and suspected Ebola deaths. The WHO says there have also been six Ebola deaths in Mali, eight in Nigeria and one in the United States.

The total number of cases in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia now stands at 19,031, up from 18,569.

Ban arrived in Guinea, where the outbreak’s first cases were confirmed in March, on Saturday after touring Liberia and Sierra Leone. Ban was accompanied by Margaret Chan Fu-chun, head of the World Health Organisation, David Nabarro, the UN coordinator for the fight against Ebola; and Anthony Banbury, the head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response or UNMEER.

After meeting with President Alpha Conde, Ban expressed concern about the situation in the country’s southeast forest region, where he said the number of infected people “seems to continue to grow”. The region borders Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast, and Ban called for cross-border collaboration to bring the disease under control.

He urged all Guineans to commit themselves to eradicating Ebola, saying the UN and its partners “are there to help you.”

“It has never been so important to work together,” he said.

Guinea has recorded 2,453 Ebola deaths and 1,550 cases, according to the WHO. This past week, officials in Conakry, the capital, announced a ban on New Year’s Eve celebrations such as fireworks displays and beach gatherings in a bid to curtail transmission.

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