MONROVIA, Liberia, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Liberia has reported 49 new Ebola cases during the month of December.
"In the past 25 days, Dec. 1-25, 2014, 49 cases have reported, 27 confirmed, nine probable and 13 cases suspected," Tolbert Nyenswah, head of Liberia's Ebola response, told reporters Sunday at the Incident Command Center.
The new cases are focused in the Grand Cape Mount district in the country's north, Nyenswah said, close to neighboring Sierra Leone, in one of the areas "with the highest burden of EVD."
Nyenswah, an assistant health minister for preventive services and head of the Incident Management System, blamed the new transmission on the migration of people with either suspected or probable Ebola and on exposure by people who deny the existence of Ebola but continue to hide those who are infected and touch or bathe corpses of Ebola victims.
"We have people still traditionally preparing the dead body before burial, and secret burials are still taking place in the county causing the spread of the virus. We need to desist from these (practices) with the deadly Ebola virus still threatening," he said.
An emergency meeting has been called in Grand Cape Mount district to discuss the situation.
Despite the 49 new cases in December and an acknowledgment that "transmission remains intense in the country," the World Health Organization found that "case incidence has been declining at a national level since mid-November," the agency wrote in a situation report published Dec. 24.
Nearly 3,400 people have died from Ebola in Liberia, making it the country hardest hit by the outbreak in West Africa that has so far claimed 7,588 lives, WHO said.
"A total of 19,463 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of EVD and 7,573 deaths have been reported up to the end of 21 December 2014 by the Ministries of Health of Guinea and Sierra Leone, and 20 December by the Ministry of Health of Liberia."