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Ebola Outbreak In West Africa Still Expanding Geographically: WHO

MONROVIA, LIBERIA - OCTOBER 13:  Nurses escort Ebola survivor Wilson Weh, 56, from the JFK Ebola treatment center after he wa
MONROVIA, LIBERIA - OCTOBER 13: Nurses escort Ebola survivor Wilson Weh, 56, from the JFK Ebola treatment center after he was released on October 13, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. A planned strike at treatment centers was averted as most nurses and health care workers reported for work, many saying they could not in good conscience leave their patients unattended. Health workers have been asking for increased hazard pay. They are one of the most high-risk groups of Ebola infection, and nearly 100 of them have died in Liberia alone. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

GENEVA/LONDON, Oct 14 (Reuters) - The number of Ebola cases in West Africa will go over 9,000 this week and the epidemic is still expanding geographically in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

The death toll so far in the outbreak, first reported in Guinea in March, has reached 4,447 from a total of 8,914 cases, said WHO Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward.

While there are signs of rates of infection slowing in some of the worst-hit areas, Aylward said the disease has now reached "more districts, counties and prefectures" than it had a month ago, and said case numbers would continue to rise.

He stressed it would be "really, really premature" to read success into the apparent slowing numbers in some areas, adding that by the first week in December, WHO projections suggest there may be between 5,000 and 10,000 new cases a week.

"We anticipate that the number of cases occuring by that time will be 5,000 to 10,000," he told reporters from the WHO's Geneva headquarters. "It could be higher, it could lower but it's going to be in that ball park."

The total case numbers so far in the outbreak, "will go over 9,000 cases this week," he said, adding: "In certain areas were seeing disease coming down but that doesn't mean they're going to go to zero."

(Reporting by Tom Miles in Geneva and Kate Kelland in London, editing by xxxxxxx)

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Ebola in West Africa