GENEVA – The deadly Ebola virus has claimed the lives of 134 health workers in West Africa, mostly doctors and nurses, World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said Friday.
The total number of infected health workers is as high as 256, he said, while stressing the need to bolster the already inadequate number of medical personnel in the countries hit by the virus, which has a high mortality rate.
“What we really need are health workers, because without them, to have treatment centers really makes no sense. More are needed, especially in Liberia, where sick people simply have nowhere to go,” Jasarevic said.
To date, WHO has deployed 202 experts in Ebola-hit countries: 70 in Sierra Leone, 59 in Guinea, 58 in Liberia, 14 in Nigeria and one in Senegal.
Jasarevic acknowledged that the situation is getting out of control.
“We do not know exactly where all the sick people or chains of transmission are, but we have to be fast about finding out. We can say that now we are behind the disease, but you have to get in front of it as quickly as possible,” he said.
WHO estimates that 12,000 medical workers in the countries where Ebola is spreading, along with 750 foreign experts, are suffering for some variety of viral hemorrhagic fever, the group of diseases to which Ebola belongs.
The Ebola virus has infected 3,685 people and 1,841 have died of the disease, according to the latest statistics from WHO. The mortality rate is 61 percent in Guinea, 51 percent in Liberia and 39 percent in Sierra Leone.