Ebola death toll rises to above 2,600

More than 2,600 people have now died from Ebola, the World Health Organisation said.

The organisation reported more than 5,000 cases across west Africa, describing the crisis as "unparalleled in modern times".

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Sierra Leone locked down for three days to battle Ebola

Thousands of health workers were conducting house-to-house visits today across Sierra Leone in search of hidden Ebola cases as the entire country was ordered to stay at home for three days.

In an unprecedented effort to combat the deadly disease, authorities hope to find and isolate Ebola patients who have not gone to health centres, regarded by many only as places to die.

Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma said health workers would hand out soap and that once a house had been checked it would be marked with a sticker. "The survival and dignity of each and every Sierra Leonean is at stake ... this is a fight for this land that we love," he said.

Ebola has so far killed more than 2,600 people have died across West Africa.

Meanwhile, six people have been arrested following the murders in Guinea of eight people including health officials and journalists who had been on an Ebola awareness campaign. Just one member of the group escaped the killers.

A football fan sanitises his hands in Abidjan ahead of Sierra Leone's African Nations Cup game against Ivory Coast earlier this month. Both countries have been hit by the Ebola virus. Credit: Luc Gnago/Reuters


UK to step up Ebola aid to west Africa

The UK will provide hundreds of extra beds to treat victims of the Ebola virus as part of a £100m aid package.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said without more humanitarian aid the outbreak could become "a global catastrophe with disastrous consequences".

Speaking after chairing a meeting of the Government's Cobra emergency committee today, Mr Hammond said: "The UK will now deliver a further 500 beds over the coming months, working with partners to provide and train the international staff and support needed to operate those beds."

It comes after the Government pledged last week to set up a 62-bed treatment centre in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

British Ebola survivor flies to US to help victim

A British man who survived the Ebola virus has apparently travelled to the US in the hope of helping a new victim of the deadly disease.

Will Pooley has reportedly offered to undergo a blood transfusion to help the American, who has not been named, overcome the virus.

Will Pooley hopes to be able to help an American victim of Ebola. Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The Foreign Office said the 29-year-old nurse had flown to Atlanta over the weekend after he was issued with an emergency passport to help facilitate the trip.

Mr Pooley's blood will now contain natural antibodies that could help protect against the virus.

French volunteer contracts Ebola in Liberia

A French volunteer with charity Medecins Sans Frontieres has contracted the Ebola virus in Liberia.

The aid worker, who is the first French national to contract the disease during this outbreak, was put in quarantine on September 16 when she started showing symptoms of the disease.

She will be evacuated to a specialist treatment in France.

IMF could provide extra $127m to deal with Ebola

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said it could provide Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone with an extra $127m to fight the spread of the Ebola virus.

A woman being tested for fever - a symptom of Ebola, in Sierra Leone. Credit: TT News Agency/Press Association Images

The money has not been approved by the IMF's executive board, but it could help cover gaps in the west African nations' finances.

"The Ebola outbreak is a severe human, social and economic crisis that requires a resolute response from the international community," IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a statement.


'We've done in days what might take weeks or months'

The response to trying to find an Ebola vaccine is one of the fastest to any epidemic ever seen, the professor who is leading the British trial said.

Professor Adrian Hill told ITV News it was "totally unprecedented" and added: "I've never seen anything happen so quickly before in terms of getting a vaccine trial started.

"We've done in days what might take months, or certainly weeks, so it's been fantastic to see that in a month we've gone from deciding to do this to actually vaccinating people."

The professor warned "lots could go wrong" but said so far he believed the vaccine was safe.

The current trials are expected to commence in December after being tested on 140 people both in Britain and in Africa.

If the results show it has been successful, stockpiles of the drug will then be distributed to those most in need.

Former nurse first volunteer to test new Ebola vaccine

Ruth Atkins is the first person to be tested with the new Ebola vaccine in the UK. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

A former NHS nurse has become the first Briton to test a potentially life-saving new vaccine to tackle the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa.

Ruth Atkins was injected with the experimental drug, called Chimp Adenovirus type 3 (ChAd3), which has so far only been trialled in primates, this morning.

Ms Atkins, an NHS communications manager from Marcham in Oxfordshire, said: "I feel absolutely fine, it felt no different to being vaccinated before going on holiday."

She said she volunteered after hearing about the trials on the radio.

"The situation in West Africa is so tragic. I thought being part of this vaccination process was something small I could do to hopefully make a huge impact."

Ms Atkins is one of 60 volunteers taking part in a UK trial at Oxford University over the coming weeks.

Ruth said she felt Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Professor Adrian Hill, who is leading the trial at the university's Jenner Institute, hailed it as a "very important step" in bringing the disease, which has so far killed more than 2,250 people, under control.

He said: "This vaccine has never been given to a person before so it's a very important step in fighting the outbreak of Ebola.

"If everything works well over the coming months we will hopefully be using this for health care workers by the end of the year."

Ebola could cause economic ruin for West Africa

Liberia is already in a state of emergency following the worst Ebola outbreak ever. Credit: Reuters

The most devastating ever outbreak of Ebola could cause economic ruin in West Africa if it is not contained by the end of next year, the World Bank said.

Slow containment of the disease in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone could lead to it spreading further.

In the worst-case scenario Guinea's economic growth could shrink by 2.3%, while Sierra Leone's growth would cut by 8.9%.

But Liberia would be hardest hit with a reduction of 11.7% growth, a statement from the global development leader said.

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