The figures from Save the Children showed there were 765 new cases last week in the west African country alone, but only 327 hospital beds to treat infected patients. The charity said the “terrifying” rate of the spread of the disease was outstripping medical supplies and threatened a breakdown of Sierra Leone’s already fragile health system.
The rate of spread of the deadly virus is projected to double to 10 people an hour in the country before the end of October, Save the Children said.
The UN said the spread of the disease in neighbouring Liberia was just as alarming and called for a massive international response to prevent the outbreak wreaking havoc in west Africa and beyond. Speaking from Liberia, Anthony Banbury, the head of a new UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, said: “It is fairly similar in Liberia. The disease is spreading very rapidly – cases doubling every 20 days.”
Interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Banbury said: “The disease has reached every county of Liberia. It is clear that the international community has to have a rapid and very strong response to get this disease under control before it wreaks much more massive havoc in these countries and possibly other ones.”
The first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola outside of Africa told medical staff in the US that he had recently travelled to Liberia.
Banbury added: “We now need a very massive international response, that combines health interventions, big logistics as well as mass community mobilisation – getting information out to very remote villages, explaining to them how to protect themselves against the disease and what to do if someone falls sick.”