Almost 5,000 people have died of Ebola in West Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday. More than 13,500 cases have been confirmed since the beginning of the outbreak earlier this year.
The new death figure may indicate that the spread of the deadly disease has slowed. Approximately 30 people died of Ebola in the past week, according to WHO figures. The weekly death toll measured in the hundreds just weeks ago.
The updated figures follow a week of news that seem to suggest that the number of cases of Ebola is on the decline, especially in Liberia. Still, health officials warned earlier this week that much work remains to be done.
“A slight decline in cases in a few days versus getting this thing closed out is a completely different ball game,” said World Health Organization assistant director general Bruce Aylward on a conference call earlier this week. “It’s like saying your pet tiger is under control.”
With a few exceptions, Ebola has been centered in West Africa. All but ten of the Ebola deaths have been in the countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.