MADRID: The death toll from Ebola has passed 4,000, the World Health Organization said Friday, while a Madrid nurse was fighting for her life and authorities worldwide tried to prevent panic over the deadly disease.
The WHO said 4,033 people have died from Ebola as of October 8 out of a total of 8,399 registered cases in seven countries. The sharp rise in deaths came as the UN said aid pledges to fight the outbreak have fallen well short of the $1 billion (800 million euros) needed.
Beyond west Africa, where almost all the deaths have occurred, fears grew about the worst-ever Ebola epidemic.
From Australia to Zimbabwe, and Macedonia to Spain, people who showed signs of fever or had recent contact with Ebola victims were whisked into isolation units or ordered to stay in their homes.
Authorities warned that hoaxes could trigger panic as a man was taken off a US flight by a bio-hazard team after he sneezed and reportedly said, “I have Ebola. You are all screwed.”
Serious concerns remained in Spain over how the virus could have spread in the country’s main isolation hospital.
Healthcare workers told Agence France-Presse the quarantine floor of Carlos III hospital in Madrid, where 44-year-old nurse Teresa Romero was infected, was shut last year as a result of spending cuts and only re-opened for two missionaries flown back from Africa with the disease in August.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy visited the hospital, where Romero, who caught the haemorrhagic fever while caring for the missionaries, was said to be in a “stable but serious” condition on Friday.
Doctors there took in seven more patients for observation late Thursday. Romero’s husband and 12 other people, most of them medical staff, were also under observation, though a male nurse had been discharged, the hospital said.