Accra - The U.N. Ebola Emergency Response Mission will not fully meet its Dec. 1 target for containing the virus due to escalating numbers of cases in Sierra Leone and elsewhere, Anthony Banbury, the head of UNMEER, said on Monday.
The mission set the goal in September of having 70 percent of Ebola patients under treatment and 70 percent of Ebola victims safely buried. That target will be achieved in some areas, Banbury told Reuters, citing progress in Liberia.
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"We are going to exceed the Dec 1 targets in some areas. But we are almost certainly going to fall short in others. In both those cases, we will adjust to what the circumstances are on the ground," he said in an interview.
Banbury said the areas of greatest concern are in rural parts of Sierra Leone as well as the city of Makeni in the centre of the country and Port Loko in the northwest.
Surveillance to prevent further cross-border spread of the disease must be improved, he added, given the transmission of the disease overland from Guinea into Mali, where at least six people have now died.
The death toll in the worst Ebola epidemic on record has risen to 5,459 out of 15,351 cases identified in eight countries by the end of Nov. 18, the World Health Organization said on Friday. The vast majority of those cases are in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
U.S. Brigadier General Frank Tate, deputy commanding general of U.S forces helping Liberia fight the epidemic said on Monday that there has been dramatic improvement in the situation in the country considered the worst-hit by the outbreak.