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WHO announces $490 million plan for fighting Ebola

August 28, 2014 at 6:20 PM EDT
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GWEN IFILL: There were new numbers and a bleak projection today on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.  At the same time, it appears human trials will begin for a possible vaccine as soon as next week.

The ominous forecast came from the World Health Organization:  Ebola cases could top 20,000 as the outbreak continues to spread.

DR. BRUCE AYLWARD, World Health Organization: It is now not just remote isolated areas where you can rapidly contain, but we are dealing with this disease in large urban environments and over large geographic areas.  This is very unique.

GWEN IFILL: So far, the U.N. agency has confirmed more than 3,000 cases.  Of that number, more than half have died in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria.  But the WHO says the outbreak could spread to 10 other countries.

To contain the virus, the agency announced a $490 million strategic plan for the next nine months.

DR. BRUCE AYLWARD: When we look at the numbers of people, to make this work, we are going to need 750 internationals at least and 12,000 nationals.  That is very difficult in the current — current environment, but that is the scale of manpower needed to do this.

GWEN IFILL: The current environment includes a sizable fear factor, especially in Liberia, the country with the most Ebola cases and deaths.  Doctors Without Borders opened a treatment facility in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, two weeks ago, but its 120 beds are already full.

LINDIS HURUM, Doctors Without Borders: The health care system has more or less broken down.  Hospitals have closed, clinics are closed.  Some of them have reopened, but the staff is afraid to go back because they are afraid to get the disease.

GWEN IFILL: In desperation, Liberian officials quarantined Monrovia’s West Point neighborhood, and armed police have used live ammunition to stop residents from getting out.  The medical emergency has also placed a heavy economic strain on affected countries.  The African Development Bank is urging an end to trade and travel restrictions.

DONALD KABERUKA, President, African Development Bank: Markets are not functioning, airlines are not coming in, projects are being canceled, businesspeople have left.  That is very, very damaging.