Latest Updates WHO Lowers Ebola Death Toll Estimate, Says Virus Slowing in Liberia

WHO veteran elected as head of Africa office amid Ebola criticism; Spanish nurse cured of Ebola to be discharged; Australia to staff U.K.-provided Ebola hospital in Sierra Leone.

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Hearth workers cover the body of a man suspected of dying from the Ebola virus on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia, Friday, Oct. 31, 2014
Hearth workers cover the body of a man suspected of dying from the Ebola virus on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia, Friday, Oct. 31, 2014Credit: AP

Click here for Tuesday's updates on the Ebola outbreak

Latest updates:

9:30 P.M. WHO lowers Ebola death toll estimate, says virus slowing in Liberia

The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that it continued to see a slowdown in weekly Ebola cases in Liberia, although incidence of the disease was still rising in Sierra Leone and stable in Guinea.

The WHO revised the cumulative death toll downwards for a second week running as it sought to improve the quality of its data, with 440 fewer deaths reported in Sierra Leone than in data published last Friday.

The WHO put the total death toll at 4,818 out of 13,042 cases as of Nov. 2, compared to 4,951 deaths in Friday's Ebola update; but it repeated a warning that the figures continued to be too low because of under-reporting. (Reuters)

6:25 P.M. German doctors use experimental heart drug in treating Ebola patient

Doctors in Germany said on Wednesday a patient infected with Ebola had recovered after they had treated him with an experimental drug initially designed to treat vascular problems and help heart attack patients.

Doctors at the Frankfurt University Hospital said the patient, who was medically evacuated to Frankfurt after working with Ebola victims in Sierra Leone, recovered after receiving the drug called FX06, developed by scientists at the Vienna General Hospital in Austria.

The patient, whose immune system had been weakened by the virus, was still in hospital, the medics told reporters at a news conference, and would spend more time in Frankfurt until he regained his strength. (Reuters)

4:38 P.M. New AU medical team to depart for Ebola-hit West Africa

An African Union team of 40 health workers is about to leave for Ebola-hit Guinea, the organization announced Wednesday, while the European Union said two of its commissioners would visit affected countries.

The AU team includes doctors, laboratory experts, data analysts and communication experts from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Niger and Zimbabwe. They will depart Thursday.

"We are presenting this team of health workers, but we have also realized that the needs are much bigger," AU Commission Chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said in Addis Ababa. (DPA)

3:22 P.M. WHO veteran elected as head of Africa office amid Ebola criticism

The World Health Organization elected a longtime veteran of the U.N. agency as the head of its Africa office on Wednesday, amid criticism of its handling of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

A WHO spokesman said that Botswana's Dr. Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti, a former deputy director of the WHO's Africa office (AFRO), had been chosen to lead the organisation's regional branch at a meeting in Benin.

Moeti joined the WHO in 1999 as regional adviser for Women's and Adolescent Health. Before that, she worked in Botswana's Ministry of Health. She has also held senior positions within the organisation, including a stint as regional adviser on the WHO's HIV/AIDS programme and head of its Malawi office.

12:14 P.M. Spanish nurse cured of Ebola to be discharged

A Spanish nursing assistant who recovered from Ebola is to be discharged from a Madrid hospital a month after she was admitted with the virus.

Carlos III hospital chief Rafael Perez-Santamarina said Teresa Romero will be released later Wednesday and will make a statement to the media.
She was the first person known to have contracted the disease outside of West Africa in the latest outbreak.

Hospital doctors said Romero, 44, received various treatments, including blood plasma from an Ebola survivor, but were unable to say if any had been effective.
Romero had treated two Spanish missionaries who died of Ebola in August and September after they were flown back from West Africa. (AP)

8:10 A.M. Australia to staff British-provided Ebola hospital in Sierra Leone

Australia's government says it expects to staff a British-provided Ebola hospital in Sierra Leone by the end of the month after reaching an agreement with Britain.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the decision to staff the 100-bed hospital was made after the British and Australian governments struck a deal on treating Australian health workers infected with the deadly disease.

For weeks, Australia had refused requests from the United States and Britain to send health teams to West Africa.

But Abbott said Wednesday that while his government would not compel Australian health professionals to go Africa, it is now prepared to pay doctors and nurses who volunteer to go there.

He said Australia changed its stance because Britain guaranteed it would treat any Australian health worker infected with Ebola. (AP)

8:09 A.M. World Bank chief reports mixed progress in Ebola fight in West Africa

The World Bank's president on Wednesday reported mixed progress in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa, pointing to encouraging signs in Liberia and a more worrisome trend in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Some 5,000 people have been killed during the current Ebola outbreak, the deadliest on record, with most of the fatalities in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

"There's some good news coming out of Liberia in terms of reduced number of cases, at least coming to the hospitals," World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday in Seoul.

"But then there is more concerning news coming out of Sierra Leone, where regions that were thought to be under control have now seen a surge in cases, and this is what we see with Ebola - we see drops and then we see surges," he said.

"So the effort is going to take a long time. The effort is going to require ... thousands of health workers and we need countries to step up right now to provide those workers so that we can begin really tackling the end game, which is to get to zero in each of these three countries," he said. (Reuters)

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