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Doctor compares Ebola fight to 'wartime'

The World Health Organization said official death counts may underestimate the disease's impact.
By Ed Adamczyk   |   Aug. 15, 2014 at 12:36 PM   |   Comments

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GENEVA, Switzerland, Aug. 15 (UPI) -- Doctors Without Borders' international president compared the Ebola epidemic in West Africa to combat against an advancing enemy Friday.

The head of the non-governmental organization, Joanne Liu, said after she returned to the group's headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, from a 10-day visit to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, "I really had the feeling that it is a wartime, in terms of fear."

The World Health Organization said the viral disease has killed over 1,000 people thus far this year, and official counts may "vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak."

Liu referred to the lack of infrastructure in the most affected countries as an "emergency within an emergency," noting distrust is created in areas where basic healthcare is unavailable.

"My biggest concern is that we are exposing the medical staff over and over again," she said, adding, "Over the next six months we should get the upper hand on the epidemic. This is my gut feeling."

WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl, also in Geneva, said patients quickly fill newly-opened treatment centers, citing an 80-bed facility in Monrovia, Liberia, that filled to capacity on its first day, only to have dozens of new patients seeking treatment arrive on the second day.

Three athletes from the West African countries were denied permission Friday by the International Olympic Committee to participate in the Youth Olympics -- beginning Saturday in Nanking, China -- because of the Ebola infection risk.

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