Ebola death toll climbs to 2,630 out of 5,357 cases: WHO

Guinea's Red Cross health workers prepare to carry the body of an Ebola victim at the Medecin sans frontieres treatement centre in Conakry on September 14, 2014 (AFP Photo/Cellou Binani)

Geneva (AFP) - The deadliest Ebola epidemic on record has now infected more than 5,000 people in west Africa and killed around half of them, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

The UN health agency said a total of 5,357 people had been infected across five west African countries, and that 2,630 had died.

In the three hardest-hit countries of Guinea, Libera and Sierra Leone, 45 percent of the cases were recorded in the past three weeks, WHO said.

Here are the latest WHO numbers, as of September 14:

In Guinea, where the outbreak began at the start of the year, Ebola had claimed 601 lives, or 64 percent of the 942 people infected.

Thirty-three percent of those cases surfaced in the 21 days leading up to September 14.

In Liberia, which has been hit hardest by the outbreak, 1,459 people had died from Ebola, representing 54 percent of the 2,720 people infected.

A full 52 percent, or 1,383, of those cases were recorded during the three weeks before September 14.

In Sierra Leone, 562 people had died from Ebola, accounting for 34 percent of the 1,673 people infected.

Thirty-nine percent of those cases were recorded during the preceding 21 days.

Nigeria had, as of September 14, seen eight Ebola deaths since the virus first arrived in the country with a Liberian finance ministry official who died in Lagos on July 25.

That amounts to 38 percent of the 21 cases. Six of those cases have emerged in the past three weeks.

Senegal's only confirmed Ebola case -- a Guinean student who crossed the border just before it was closed on August 21 -- has recovered, but the country will not be declared transmission-free before 42 days have passed since the case was recorded.

Healthcare workers

Healthcare workers, already in very short supply in the impoverished countries hardest-hit by the outbreak, have paid an especially heavy price. 318 of them have been infected across four west African countries, 151 of whom have died.

Guinea: 61 healthcare workers infected, 30 of whom have died.

Liberia: 172 healthcare workers infected, 85 of whom have died.

Sierra Leone: 74 healthcare workers infected, 31 of whom have died

Nigeria: 11 healthcare workers infected, five of whom have died.

Separate outbreak

The Democratic Republic of Congo has meanwhile been hit by a separate Ebola outbreak, which as of September 15 had killed 40 people out of 71 cases.

Five Ebola species

There are five known distinct species of Ebola, and the outbreak raging in west Africa stems from the Zaire species.

That species caused the world's first known Ebola outbreak in DR Congo in 1976, which until now was the deadliest on record, with 280 deaths.

The current DR Congo outbreak meanwhile is believed to come from two separate species, the Zaire and the Sudan species, which first surfaced in Sudan, also in 1976.