After weeks of decreases in reported Ebola cases in West Africa, the three countries hardest hit by the outbreak saw increases in infections.
Health officials tallied a combined 124 new cases of the potentially deadly virus in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The latest figures represent an increase of 55 new cases over the previous seven-day period. Those figures also represented the first time all three countries registered increases in the same week since reporting began.
Although the increase in reported infections shows the volatility of the Ebola outbreak, it doesn’t mean the virus is poised to begin raging through West Africa again.
"One week does not make a trend," U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Thomas Frieden said in Gregg Zoroya’s Feb. 5 article on the USA Today website. "But it shows how long and hard the road to zero is."
Sierra Leone saw the largest increase in new cases, up to 80 from the previous week’s 65. Guinea registered 39 new cases, up from 30. Liberia, which has gotten a better handle on the outbreak, saw its number increase by one case to five.
"In Liberia, we're clearly in much better shape (fighting Ebola) than the other two countries," Frieden told USA Today.
The Ebola outbreak has killed nearly 9,000 people and infected more than 22,000. The World Health Organization has been roundly criticized for its response to the outbreak. The group has admitted making mistakes and is instituting reforms intended to ensure the next outbreak of an infectious disease is dealt with more effectively.
According to doctors and health experts, another Ebola outbreak is “inevitable” unless the international community rallies together to create a long-term approach to combat the disease in the future, according to a Newsweek report filed Feb. 6 by Catherine Phillips.