Red Cross president: 'The Ebola crisis will grow'

Dylan Stableford
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A health worker takes Benson, 2 months, from his mother to carry him to a re-opened Ebola holding center in the West Point neighborhood on October 17, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. The baby, his mother and grandmother were all taken to the center after an Ebola tracing coordinator checked their temperature and found they all had fever. A family member living in the home had died only the day before from Ebola. The West Point holding center was re-opened this week with community support, two months after a mob overran the facility and looted it's contents, denying the presence of Ebola in their community. The World Health Organization says that more than 4,500 people have died due to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa with a 70 percent mortality rate for those infected with the virus. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Liberia races to expand Ebola treatment facilities

The head of the International Red Cross is warning that the Ebola crisis will likely only get worse with the real threat of a "global health catastrophe."

“The Ebola crisis will grow," Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, told Yahoo News Deutschland. "Until now, there is no vaccine on-site, and more and more people die.”

The outbreak, which has already infected 8,997 people and killed 4,493 in West Africa, is an “epidemic of global dimension and global threat," Maurer said.

"In a globalized world it is an illusion to think that such a disease can be contained locally," he continued. "Every local collapse of a system like we see now in Liberia includes the threat of a global health catastrophe. That’s what we risk.“

His comments echo those of Anthony Banbury, chief of the U.N.'s Ebola mission, who this week warned that if the global community does not step up its efforts to stop Ebola by Dec. 1, the world will "face an entirely unprecedented situation for which we don't have a plan."

“Ebola got a head start on us,” Banbury told the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday. “It is far ahead of us, it is running faster than us, and it is winning the race."

According to the World Health Organization, health officials could soon start seeing 10,000 new cases per week in Ebola-ravaged West Africa. There have been about 4,000 new cases in the past four weeks, according to the WHO.

“The virus is still moving geographically and still escalating in capitals, and that’s what concerns me,” Dr. Bruce Aylward, assistant director-general of the WHO, told reporters on Tuesday as the organization downgraded the chances of recovery from an Ebola infection to 30 percent.

Maurer called for nations to act and accelerate the delivery of resources to the region.

"There are a lot of announcements," he said. "But when I ask my colleagues [in West Africa] about the aid already arrived, then this result is less than all the warm words."

The ICRC president also reiterated his criticism of U.S.-led airstrikes against Islamist State militants in Iraq and Syria.

“The situation has not gotten better," Maurer said. "When bombs are deployed in densely populated areas, the civilian population always suffers."

 

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