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Ebola toll nears 7,000 in West Africa

Washington : The number of Ebola-related deaths has reached around 6,900 in the three most affected countries in West Africa –Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, a media report said citing the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and US senator Chris Coons kicked off their tours of the Ebola-hit region late Thursday evening.

At 3,290, nearly half of the fatal cases were in Liberia though the nation is witnessing progress while the viral disease continues to rage in Sierra Leone which has seen 2,085 Ebola-related deaths, the Washington Times reported.

Ban started his tour in Accra, capital of Ghana, where the UN’s Ebola mission is headquartered. From there, he was scheduled to visit the three hardest-hit countries and Mali, which saw a flare-up of cases in recent weeks but brought transmission under control.

“I want to see the response for myself, and show my solidarity with those affected and urge even greater global action,” Ban said before leaving for New York.

“The Ebola response strategy is working and we are beginning to see improvements. But now is not the time to ease up on our efforts. As long as there is one case of Ebola, the risk remains,” the UN daily Ebola mission report said.

Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat who chairs a sub-committee on African affairs, announced late Thursday that he was flying to Liberia for a four-day visit with American troops who are battling Ebola in that country.

“There are more than 2,000 US troops currently serving on the front lines of our fight against Ebola, building hospitals and field clinics, but no member of Congress has visited them yet,” he said.

“I think it’s important to show them our support, especially during the holiday season while they’re away from their loved ones,” he added.