Five people in Sierra Leone are infected with Ebola every hour, according to new data released Wednesday by the international charity Save the Children. In a statement, the organization warned that the outbreak in the West African country is developing at a terrifying rate and that local health facilities are ill-equipped to handle the emergency.
According to Save the Children, an estimated 765 new cases of Ebola were reported in Sierra Leone just last week, while the country currently only has 327 beds for patients available. Without drastic efforts to curtail the spread of the disease, 10 people will be infected every hour in the country before the end of October, Save the Children said.
"We are facing the frightening prospect of an epidemic which is spreading like wildfire across Sierra Leone, with the number of new cases doubling every three weeks," Rob MacGillivray, Save the Children’s country director in Sierra Leone, said in a press release about the new numbers.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Wednesday that over 7,100 cases of Ebola have been reported in West Africa since the start of the outbreak. More than 3,300 people have died of the disease. The organization warned, however, that cases are almost certainly underreported.
The spread of Ebola remains persistent in Sierra Leone, according to the WHO, and there's strong evidence that the disease is reaching new districts.
Dr. Amara Jambai, director of prevention and control at Sierra Leone’s health ministry, told The New York Times that his country is wholly unprepared to combat the spread of the deadly disease. Reporting from the district of Bombali, the newspaper observed that clinics were unable to deal with the constant influx of severely ill patients. The nearest Ebola treatment center is often hours away. Doctors and nurses lacked basic training on how to prevent infections. Patients receive a minimum of aid. Little international help has reached the region.
According to estimates by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the number of Ebola cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone could rise to 1.4 million by January if the disease is not effectively fought. Only 30 percent of patients survive Ebola.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said more than 7650 new cases of Ebola were reported in Sierra Leone just last week. An estimated 765 cases were reported.