MOSCOW, September 23 (RIA Novosti), Ekaterina Blinova - Ebola infection figures are apparently underestimated; the death toll is much higher than the WHO's officials and West African governments have announced, experts claim.
"Since the beginning of the outbreak more than six months ago, the Sierra Leone Health Ministry reported only 10 confirmed Ebola deaths here in Freetown, the capital of more than one million people, and its suburbs as of Sunday — a hopeful sign that this city, unlike the capital of neighboring Liberia, had been relatively spared the ravages of the outbreak. But the bodies pouring in to the graveyard tell a different story. In the last eight days alone, 110 Ebola victims have been buried at King Tom Cemetery," the New York Times points out in an article "Fresh Graves Point to Undercount of Ebola Toll."
The media outlet cites Abdul Rahman Parker, King Tom Cemetery's supervisor, as saying that the "outbreak… is much more deadly than either the government or international health officials have announced."
Although Sierra Leone's authorities have reported that they have succeed in containing the deadly virus, experts point out that in fact no one knows "how bad the outbreak really is." The New York Times underscores that the official statistics "vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak," citing the World Health Organization (WHO) reports.
It seems that the local authorities deliberately understate the number of Ebola victims. "One family said the victim had definitely died of Ebola, while five others described Ebola-like symptoms — vomiting, diarrhea, fever — though none had been given an official cause of death," the media source notes.
WHO health experts admit they "don't know exactly what is going on" and cannot explain the huge gap between the official and the cemetery crew's statistics. The gravediggers dig about 16 graves a day, claiming that the predominant majority of cases are Ebola-related deaths.
"Since last month, it's every day, any minute and hour, and often, they are coming" to bury the Ebola victim, says Desmond Kamara, a local police officer, as cited by the New York Times.
Meanwhile, the WHO warns that the number of Ebola deaths may hit 21,000 by November, the CBC News reports.
The media source is also citing the Centres' for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calculations, which are based on the hypothesis that the Ebola death toll has been "dramatically underreported":
"CDC scientists conclude there may be as many as 21,000 reported and unreported cases in just those two countries [Sierra Leone and Liberia] as soon as the end of this month… They also predict that the two countries could have a staggering 550,000 to 1.4 million cases by late January," the CBC News emphasizes.
Although the prediction sounds pessimistic, experts believe that the infection control efforts will prevent this negative scenario.