NEW: There are more than 1,300 confirmed and suspected Ebola cases, hundreds of deaths
Liberia closes all schools, sets day "for the disinfection ... of all public facilities"
"This epidemic is without precedent," a humanitarian official says
Ebola is a viral hemorrhagic fever, affecting multiple organs and accompanied by bleeding
The deadliest outbreak of Ebola virus on record has sparked fears that the killer virus could spread from West Africa to other regions and continents.
The outbreak began with just a handful of cases in Guinea in March. Since then, that number has grown to 909 confirmed cases and another 414 probable or suspected in that country, Sierra Leone and Liberia and Nigeria, according to the World Health Organization.
Some 729 people of the 1,323 total confirmed and possible infections have died, reports WHO as of July 27.
The WHO says “drastic action is needed” to contain Ebola, warning that previously undetected chains of transmission are boosting the numbers of sick and increasing the chances that the disease spreads from Africa.
“This epidemic is without precedent,” said Bart Janssens, director of operations for Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders. “It’s absolutely not under control, and the situation keeps worsening. … There are many places where people are infected but we don’t know about it.”
What’s the latest?
The Ebola outbreak has been centered in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, where authorities have been working to contain the virus.
In Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced Wednesday that, “without exceptions, all schools are ordered closed pending further directive from the Ministry of Education.” She also declared Friday a nonworking day “to be used for the disinfection and chlorination of all public facilities.”
On the same day, the Peace Corps said it was temporarily removing its 340 volunteers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea due to the outbreak.
The announcement comes as two Peace Corps volunteers were isolated after coming in contact with someone who ended up dying of Ebola, a spokeswoman for the group said. She said these two Americans “are not symptomatic,” and the Peace Corps will work to return