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Ebola outbreak: Barack Obama 'to ask Congress for $6bn'

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Media captionClive Myrie reports as an Ebola treatment centre opens in Sierra Leone

President Barack Obama is to ask Congress for $6.2bn (£3.9bn) to fight Ebola in West Africa and to avoid it spreading in the US, officials say.

He is requesting $4.5bn in immediate response funds and more than $1.5bn for a contingency fund.

The request comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) released its latest report, putting the number of cases at 13,042 and the deaths at 4,818.

All but 27 of the deaths have been in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The death toll represents a second consecutive downward revision by the WHO, as it continues to adjust its reporting.

In Guinea, the figures show a rise in cases from 1,667 in the 31 October report to 1,731 now. Deaths rose from 1,018 to 1,041.


Analysis: James Gallagher, Health editor, BBC News website

Image copyright SPL

This is not just the biggest Ebola outbreak in history, it is bigger than every other outbreak combined. The world was slow to respond and for many months the virus spread out of control in West Africa.

But the first glimmers of hope are now being witnessed. There is cautious talk that the number of new cases is beginning to level off and it is hoped they will not go above their current level of around 1,000 per week.

The WHO says the number of new cases may already be falling in Liberia.

If the huge investment on the ground can genuinely start to reduce the rate of new infections then it will be the first time in this deadly outbreak that the response has actually matched the virus.

Are cases levelling off?

How many people have died?


There was a fall in cases in Sierra Leone from 5,338 to 4,759, with reported fatalities down from 1,510 to 1,070.

In Liberia, the hardest-hit nation, cases fell from 6,535 to 6,525 but deaths rose from 2,413 to 2,697.

The WHO continues to warn that there may be under-reporting of deaths.

In other developments on Wednesday:

  • A 92-bed British-run facility to treat people with Ebola is opening in Sierra Leone
  • German doctors treating an Ebola patient say his condition has significantly improved. The man - believed to be a Ugandan aid worker - was in a critical condition when he was flown to a hospital in Frankfurt from West Africa four weeks ago
  • Teresa Romero, the Spanish nurse who became the first person known to have contracted Ebola outside West Africa in the latest outbreak, has given an emotional account of her ordeal as she left hospital
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Media captionJournalists cheered Teresa Romero as she held a news conference

WHO director

Mr Obama's request for funding is the first since Republicans made significant gains in the mid-term elections.

White House officials said Mr Obama wanted at least $2bn for the US Agency for International Development; at least $2.4bn for the Department of Health and Human Services and more than $1.5bn for the contingency fund. The Pentagon would also get more cash.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner's office said the request would be assessed.

"We'll continue to work with our members and the administration to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect the public from a deadly disease,'' Mr Boehner's spokesman Kevin Smith said.

The WHO says there have been four cases of Ebola in the US, including a Liberian man who died in Texas in October.

Two nurses who treated him contracted Ebola and have since recovered.

A US doctor who returned from Guinea is still being treated in New York.

The WHO on Wednesday also announced it had elected a new director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti.

Dr Moeti is from Botswana and a veteran WHO official.

She said after the election was announced in Benin: "I hope that the situation will be improved by the time I take office in February."

Dr Moeti will replace Luis Gomes Sambo, who has been in the post since 2005.

A leaked internal WHO report last month criticised the organisation for underestimating the impact of Ebola in its early stages and for arguments with medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres.

US and international treatment centres

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