CONAKRY , Guinea, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- An intensified, $100 million campaign in western Africa to fight the Ebola virus outbreak begins Friday.
The presidents of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are meeting in Conakry, Guinea, with World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan, in order to organize several hundred medical personnel in those countries, as well as in neighboring countries where the disease could spread.
WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said at least 600 more people are needed in the field to increase all prevention and control measures.
"The biggest challenge of this outbreak has been the fact that there are so many different centers of transmission. And, at every center of transmission you need a full team of clinical specialists, of infection control specialists, of logisticians, of lab people, of community communicators, of epidemiologists who go out and trace contacts."
Chan said the mission is "to take the response to a new level."
There have been 1,323 confirmed or suspected cases, and 729 deaths, from the virus in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since March, WHO reported.
Identifying those carrying the virus -- spread through contact with an infected person -- is an enormous task, said International Red Cross spokesman Benoit Carpentier.
"If one person that is contaminated gets into contact with 20 other people, then you have got 20 people you need to follow up for 21 days (the Ebola virus incubation period). And, if these 20 people get in contact with 20 others -- you see how it gets exponential very, very quickly."
After a slow response, West African officials are taking unusual measures to control the outbreak. Liberia has closed its schools and borders, while Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency and is using military troops to quarantine victims.