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600 Ebola cases reported in a week

Six hundred new cases of Ebola were reported in the worst-affected countries in the past week, more than half of them in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organisation has said.

The UN health agency said today that 15,935 people have fallen ill with Ebola as the disease sweeps West Africa and has occasionally popped up elsewhere. Of those, 5,689 have died.

It said infections appeared to be stabilising in Guinea and stabilising or declining in Liberia, but increasing in Sierra Leone. Officials in Sierra Leone, however, say the outbreak may be on the verge of slowing there.

The WHO said it appears to have already passed the goal in Guinea of isolating 70% of patients by December 1, but is far behind that target in the other two hard-hit countries.

Sierra Leone's minister of information, Alpha Kanu, told journalists in an online press conference that, with the imminent completion of two British-built treatment centres, the worst could be over.

"We believe that now that those treatment centres are ready, the transmission of new cases will start reducing," he said.

"I don't think we can get any higher than we are now - we are at the plateau of the curve and very soon we will have a downward trend, once we have somewhere to take people."

Nearly 1,000 British soldiers, scientists and aid workers are already in the country participating in the Ebola fight and the completion of the latest treatment centres will increase the number built to six.

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