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Ebola death toll tops 4,900

The WHO said the Ebola death toll rose to 4,922 out of 10,141 known cases in eight countries.

An Ebola sign placed in front of a home in the West Point slum area of Monrovia, Liberia. Picture: EPA.

GENEVA - The death toll from the Ebola epidemic rose to 4,922 out of 10,141 known cases in eight countries through 23 October, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Saturday.

The three worst-hit countries of West Africa - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - account for the bulk, recording 4,912 deaths out of 10,114 cases, the WHO said in its update.

The overall figures include outbreaks in Nigeria and Senegal, deemed by the WHO to be now over, as well as isolated cases in Spain, the United States and a single case in Mali.

But the true toll may be three times as much: by a factor of 1.5 in Guinea, 2 in Sierra Leone and 2.5 in Liberia, while the death rate is thought to be about 70 percent of all cases.

Explaining these projections, the WHO said many families are keeping infected people at home rather than putting them into isolation in treatment centres, some of which have refused patients due to overcrowding.

The UN agency, sounding an ominous note, said that out of the eight districts of Liberia and Guinea sharing a border with Ivory Coast, only two have yet to report confirmed or probable Ebola cases.

The WHO says 15 African states including Ivory Coast are at highest risk of the deadly virus being imported.

Meanwhile, a two-year-old girl who was Mali's first case of Ebola died on Friday.

The girl had travelled with her grandmother hundreds of kilometres by bus from Guinea via Mali's capital to the western town of Kayes, where she was diagnosed on Thursday.

Health workers were scrambling to trace hundreds of potential contacts in a bid to prevent Ebola taking hold in Mali.

In a statement, Mali's government confirmed the death of the girl, who has not been identified.

Mali is the sixth West African nation to record a case of Ebola.

Senegal and Nigeria have successfully contained outbreaks and has been declared free of the disease. Spain and the United States have had a few cases.

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