(HealthDay News) — On the same day that President Barack Obama was to announce a significant increase in U.S. aid to help combat West Africa’s Ebola crisis, the World Health Organization warned Tuesday that the window to contain the virus was closing and infections could start doubling every three weeks.
Obama is expected to dispatch 3,000 military personnel to West Africa to offer medical and logistical support to beleaguered health care facilities in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and to increase the number of beds to quarantine and treat victims of the epidemic that has already claimed more than 2,200 lives.
Underscoring the nature of the threat, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday that nearly $1 billion is needed for everything from paying health workers and buying supplies to tracing people who have been exposed to the virus. An estimated $24 million is needed just to pay for burials and body bags to contain the infectious disease. Also needed: protection suits, especially for health care workers who are at heightened risk because Ebola is spread through contact with bodily fluids such as blood from a patient.
It’s estimated that approximately 5,000 people have been infected with Ebola in West Africa. WHO projections say that number could rise to as high as 20,000 people. White House officials said it’s crucial to contain the Ebola as swiftly as possible. Some U.S. medical experts worry that the virus could mutate and expand beyond Africa, possibly threatening the United States, The New York Times reported.