President Obama announced on Tuesday that up to 3,000 U.S. military personnel will travel to West Africa to help combat the deadly Ebola virus – but this is only the beginning of what may be a long and costly enterprise.
The outbreak in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea of the deadly hemorrhagic fever has now spread to Nigeria and Senegal – and global health experts say they have weeks, not months, to act.
“Everyone realizes that no one group or one country or one organization is going to be able to tackle this,” Dr. Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank and an infectious disease expert, told The New York Times. The U.S. is also sending medicine and equipment.
“We can’t dawdle on this one,” President Obama said Tuesday. Kim said coordination among all involved was an urgent priority.
“Obama’s announcement is an attempt to take the reins in combating the outbreak. The effort, including the influx of personnel to provide medical and logistical support, could cost as much as $750 million over the next six months, senior administration officials said,” reported National Journal. China, Cuba and others are also sending assistance.
Here are some of the other critical figures associated with the rapidly spreading illness, as of Wednesday morning:
4,985: The number of reported cases of Ebola so far, according to U.N. officials in Geneva. Actual numbers could be far higher.
2,461: The number of reported deaths so far, says the same source. Half these victims died in the last three weeks.
20,000: The projected number of Ebola cases if the outbreak is not controlled, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
250,000: The projected number of cases, according to other groups.
$600 million: The smallest amount of money needed to control the epidemic in West Africa in the next six to nine months, per WHO.
$13 million: The amount France has sent so far to Guinea for two tons of medical equipment and the creation of medical centers.
$15.5 million: The amount France has sent to Senegal and Ivory Coast.
24: The number of doctors France has sent to Senegal and Ivory Coast.
$500 million: The amount the Obama administration is asking Congress to redirect from existing Defense Department funds to fight Ebola.
11: The number of chief executives of firms in the region who have called for world leaders to fight the disease.
$150,000: The amount donated by Exxon Mobil to the Liberian National Red Cross.
550: The tons of medical supplies sent to West Africa by Unicef in the past several weeks.
17: The number of treatment centers, each with 100 beds, that the American military plans to build in Liberia.
14: The number of counties in Liberia – out of 15 – that have reported confirmed cases so far.
1,000: The number of beds needed in Liberia in the next week alone to contain the disease, according to Liberian officials.
500: The number of health care workers who will be trained each week once the U.S. military sets up medical facilities.
2-21 days: Ebola's incubation period, or interval from infection to the onset of symptoms, though typically symptoms appear 8-10 days after exposure.
As high as 90 percent: The illness's fatality rate.
As long as 2 weeks: The time it will take U.S. personnel to begin setting up the earliest treatment centers.
3 days: The period of time some dead bodies are left in homes and neighborhoods in Liberia “before they are taken away by burial teams” that are vastly overwhelmed, reports The Times.
0: The number of licensed available vaccines for Ebola, though several are being tested.
1976: The year of the first human outbreaks.
Sources: WHO, The New York Times, National Journal, Government Executive, Reuters, CNN
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