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Ebola death toll nears 7,000

The Ebola death toll of 6,928 showed a leap of just over 1,200 since the WHO released its previous report.

A volunteer recieves the ebola vaccination "cAd3-EBO-Z" at the vaccines center in Bamako, Mali, 09 October 2014. Human trials of the Ebola vaccine have started in Africa after being trialed in the USA and Great Britain. Three employees of the health department in Mali were the first people in Africa to receive the vaccine. EPA/ALEX DUVAL SMITH

DAKAR - The death toll from the worst Ebola outbreak on record has reached nearly 7,000 in West Africa, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

The toll of 6,928 dead showed a leap of just over 1,200 since the WHO released its previous report on Wednesday.

The UN health agency did not provide any explanation for the abrupt increase, but the figures, published on its website, appeared to include previously unreported deaths.

A WHO spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Just over 16,000 people have been diagnosed with Ebola since the outbreak was confirmed in the forests of remote south-eastern Guinea in March, according to the WHO data that covered the three hardest-hit countries.

Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have accounted for all but 15 of the deaths in the outbreak, which has touched five other countries, according to the previous WHO figures.

WEST AFRICA EBOLA APPEAL SONG LAUNCHED

Some of Africa's top musicians launched an alternative Ebola appeal song to Band Aid's new recording of Do they know it's Christmas with proceeds also going to fight the virus.

Despite reaching number one in the UK charts, Bob Geldof's Do they know it's Christmas song has been slammed by critics who say the rewritten lyrics, including Christmas bells that clang chimes of doom and a world of dread and fear/Where a kiss of love can kill you, are an insult to Africans.

By contrast, Africa stop Ebola, sung in French and local languages including Malinke, Soussou, Kissi and Lingala, uses a mixture of rap and melodies that are distinctive to West Africa, to urge people to take Ebola seriously and go to a doctor if they are ill.

Recorded by Malians Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare and duo Amadou and Mariam, Guinean Mory Kante, Congolese Barbara Kanam and Senegalese rapper Didier Awadi among others, the song also warns people to wash their hands, avoid shaking hands with others and to refrain from touching dead bodies.

Tiken Jah Fakoly, a renowned Ivorian musician who has rallied other artists to raise awareness about Ebola, said he was touched by TV images of people in quarantine in the worst-affected countries Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.