Ebola outbreak in West Africa

Associated Press
Ebola health care workers carry the body of a middle aged man that they suspected of dying from the Ebola, on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. Dr. Robert Fuller didn't hesitate to go to Indonesia to treat survivors of the 2004 tsunami, to Haiti to help after the 2010 earthquake or to the Philippines after a devastating typhoon last year. But he's given up on going to West Africa to care for Ebola patients this winter.  (AP Photo/ Abbas Dulleh)

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The government's worst-case scenario forecast for the Ebola epidemic in West Africa won't happen, a U.S. health official said Wednesday.

In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated the number of people sickened by the Ebola virus could explode to as many as 1.4 million by mid-January without more help.

Things have changed. On Wednesday, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said, "We don't think the projections from over the summer will come to pass."

Frieden did not provide new estimates. He was speaking in Washington at a U.S. Senate hearing on preparedness and response to public health threats.

The earlier projection was a worst-case scenario for reported and unreported illnesses in Liberia and Sierra Leone, based on conditions in late August — before an international surge in medical aid and supplies. That seems to have helped slow the epidemic in Liberia, one of the three hardest-hit countries. However, the epidemic has been fierce lately in Sierra Leone; it remains unpredictable in Guinea,

When he released the Ebola projections two months ago, Frieden said he was confident the most pessimistic numbers would not occur. Since then, "there has been very effective intervention with USAID, ourselves, the global community, and most importantly the countries and the communities most affected," he said Wednesday.

Mali on Saturday confirmed a new case of Ebola and said two more suspected patients are being tested, raising concern about a further spread of the disease which has already killed at least five people in the country.

The patient who tested positive "was placed in an isolation center for intensive treatment," said a government statement distributed Saturday. No details about the patient were provided.

Mali officials are monitoring 310 people to limit the spread of the disease, said the statement. (AP)

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