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Ebola death toll passes 3,000: WHO

The death toll in the world’s worst-ever Ebola epidemic has now soared past 3,000, with the virus killing almost half of the more than 6,500 people it has infected, according to World Health Organization figures released Saturday.

In its latest update, the UN health agency said a total of 6,574 people had been infected across five west African countries and that of those, 3,091 had died.

On Thursday, citing data running up to September 21, WHO had put the death toll at 2,917 out of 6,263 cases.

WHO has repeatedly stressed its data changes do not mean that the individuals have died or been infected in the days between updates, but rather that they reflect the belated count as the epidemic rages.

– Latest toll figures –

Here are the latest WHO numbers, as of September 23:

In Guinea, where the outbreak began late last year, Ebola had infected 1,074 people, killing 648 of them.

In Liberia, which has been hit the hardest by the outbreak, 3,458 people had been infected with Ebola and 1,830 of them had died.

In Sierra Leone, Ebola had meanwhile infected 2,021 people and killed 605 of them.

Nigeria had, as of September 23, recorded 20 cases, including eight deaths, since Ebola first arrived in the country with a Liberian finance ministry official, who died in Lagos on July 25.

The last case confirmed in the country was on September 5.

Senegal’s only confirmed Ebola case — a Guinean student who crossed the border just before it was closed on August 21 — has recovered, but the country will not be declared free of the virus until 42 days after the case was recorded.

– Healthcare workers –

Healthcare workers, already in very short supply in the impoverished countries hardest-hit by the outbreak, have paid an especially heavy price. As of September 23, 375 of them had been infected across four west African countries and 211 had died.

Guinea: 67 healthcare workers infected, 35 of whom have died.

Liberia: 184 healthcare workers infected, 89 of whom have died.

Sierra Leone: 113 healthcare workers infected, 82 of whom have died.

Nigeria: 11 healthcare workers infected, five of whom have died.

– Separate outbreak –

The Democratic Republic of Congo has meanwhile been hit by a separate Ebola outbreak. Its data, which ran up to September 24, showed that the disease had killed 42 people out of the 70 infected. Of those infected and killed, eight were healthcare workers.

– Five Ebola species –

There are five known distinct species of Ebola and the outbreak raging in west Africa stems from the Zaire species — the deadliest of the lot.

That species caused the world’s first known Ebola outbreak in 1976 in Zaire, now known as DR Congo, which until now was the deadliest on record, with 280 deaths.