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Technician 'exposed to Ebola' in Atlanta laboratory

The CDC headquarters in Atlanta. Credit: Reuters

A technician at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may have been exposed to the deadly Ebola virus due to a laboratory error, the New York Times reported.

The worker will be monitored for signs of infection for 21 days - the disease's incubation period - and a group of employees who entered the lab will also be assessed for exposure, the newspaper said.

The mistake, which occurred on Monday and was discovered on Tuesday, involved sending Ebola samples that had not been inactivated to another lab down the hall.

The technician who worked with the samples wore gloves and a gown but not a mask, the Times said.

The error follows cases of the mishandling of dangerous samples of anthrax and influenza at the CDC in June, calling into question safety practices at the highly respected research institute.

Representatives of the CDC were not immediately available for comment.

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International Monetary Fund criticised over Ebola policies

Credit: Reuters

Policies advocated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have contributed to under-funded, insufficiently staffed and poorly prepared health systems in the countries with Ebola outbreaks in west Africa, academics have said.

Researchers from Cambridge University's department of sociology, joined by colleagues from Oxford University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, examined links between the IMF and the rapid spread of the disease.

They said IMF programmes over the years have imposed heavy constraints on the development of effective health systems in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - the cradle of the Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 6,800 since March this year.

Economic policy reforms advocated by the IMF have undermined the capacity of health systems in these three nations - systems already fragile from legacies of conflict and state failure - to cope with infectious disease outbreaks and other such emergencies, they added.

Lead author and Cambridge sociologist Alexander Kentikelenis:

A major reason why the Ebola outbreak spread so rapidly was the weakness of healthcare systems in the region, and it would be unfortunate if underlying causes were overlooked. Policies advocated by the IMF have contributed to under-funded, insufficiently staffed, and poorly prepared health systems in the countries with Ebola outbreaks.

– Alexander Kentikelenis

Ebola death toll rises to 7,373

The death toll from the Ebola outbreak has risen to 7,373 out of 19,091 known cases of the virus.

The World Health Organisation posted the latest figures on its website to reflect nearly 500 new deaths that have been recorded since Wednesday.

Ebola death toll rises to 6,915

The death toll from the Ebola outbreak has risen to 6,915 out of 18,603 recorded cases.

The World Health organisation released the updated figures as house-to-house searches for further possible Ebola patients began in Sierra Leone today in a bid to tackle the spread of the virus.

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House-to-house searches begin in Sierra Leone for Ebola patients

House-to-house searches have begun for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone in a bid to tackle the spread of the virus.

Internal travel restrictions have also been imposed as rates of infection increase in the country, Sierra Leone's president Ernest Bai Koroma said.

Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have been the worst hit by the virus with more than half of the 18,000 confirmed cases of the virus been in Sierra Leone.

UN: 'Several months' for Ebola to be brought under control

The United Nations Ebola chief has said it will be several more months before the outbreak in West Africa is under control.

Dr David Nabarro, the UN's Special Envoy on Ebola, said there has been "a massive shift" over the last four months in the way governments have taken the lead in responding to the epidemic and communities are taking action.

But he said greater efforts are still needed to control Ebola in hard-hit Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Health workers battling the virus in Sierra Leone. Credit: Reuters

In September, the World Health Organisation said it wanted to have 100% of cases isolated by January 1.

It conceded earlier this month that it did not fully meet an interim target but has not made clear what that means for the January goal, which some have said now looks unrealistic.

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