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Ebola death rate now 70%, WHO says

This scanning electron micrograph (SEM) depicts a number of Ebola virions. GETTY IMAGES/Media For Medical.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the death rate for those who develop Ebola is now 70 per cent. In an update, the agency said Tuesday the rate had jumped from an earlier estimate of 50 per cent.

Furthermore, the WHO warned there could as many as 10,000 new cases of Ebola each week within two months.

As of Friday, the WHO said 8,376 people either contracted or are suspected of getting Ebola and 4,024 people have died in West Africa where the current outbreak began in March.

The UN agency said that exposure of health-care workers to the deadly disease continues to be an alarming feature of this outbreak.

As of Wednesday, 416 health-care workers have developed Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, including one in Spain.

The figure didn’t include the nurse in the United States who contracted the deadly disease despite wearing protective gear to care for patient, Thomas Duncan, who contracted the disease in Liberia before flying to Texas and dying last Wednesday. The WHO says 233 health-care workers have died.

The UN update came the same day Canada’s top health official at the Public Health Agency of Canada was meeting with his provincial public health counterparts to review guidelines on how front-line health-care workers would handle Ebola patients.

Dr. Gregory Taylor said changes may be needed after the two health care workers in Dallas and Madrid contracted the deadly virus.

One Toronto ER doctor told CityNews he doesn’t know if Canada is doing enough for front-line health workers.

“We don’t know what we need to be doing given what we’ve seen happen in Dallas and what we’ve seen happen in Madrid where health care workers have contracted Ebola,” said Dr. Brett Belchetz.

“On a day-to-day basis, most front-line workers are quite terrified now should we come into contact with an Ebola patient that we could become infected even using the greatest protection that’s out here.”

He also said it was easy to pass the enhanced screening at airports because of Ebola’s long incubation period of as much as 21 days and that travellers who are ill could mask their symptoms and bypass the temperature screening at airports by taking Ibuprofen.

Canada recently beefed up airport screening for Ebola at six airports. View the below map for which airports. Mobile viewers, click here.

There have been no cases of Ebola in Canada and officials say the risk of it here is very low.

This week, two patients in Ottawa and Belleville were being isolated and monitored as a precaution because they showed Ebola-like symptoms.

The Ottawa patient tested negative and preliminary results for the Belleville patient were due Tuesday.

Below is an infographic of where Ebola is likely to show up next. It was prepared by MOBS Lab at Northeastern University in Boston, which develops data-driven models for the spread of infectious diseases. Click on the image to enlarge.

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With files from The Canadian Press, Reuters and CNN