FREETOWN , Sierra Leone, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Sierra Leone officials discovered the bodies of over 100 Ebola virus victims in a remote part of the country, suggesting that the country's death count has been underestimated.
A World Health Organization (WHO) team was sent to the eastern Kono region to investigate the increase in Ebola cases. It said Wednesday it found and buried 87 bodies, and 25 others were found piled in a cordoned section of a local hospital. Bodies of Ebola victims remain infectious, and safe burials are an element of containing the disease; health officials are concerned many Ebola cases in the Kono area, known for its diamond mines, have been unreported. The Kono region, with a population of about 350,000, reported only 119 Ebola cases through Tuesday.
Dr. Olu Olushayo of WHO said, "Our team met heroic doctors and nurses at their wits' end, exhausted burial teams and lab techs, all doing the best they could but they simply ran out of resources and were overrun with gravely ill people."
The Kono region has been but on lockdown, with no entry or exit allowed, until Dec. 23.
Sierra Leone has reported 1,319 new cases of the virus, bringing its total since the outbreak began to 7,897. The figure surpasses that of neighboring Liberia, whose number of cases has declined in the past month, with 7,719. Thus far, 17,908 cases and 6,373 deaths have been reported throughout West Africa.