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UN tally of Ebola deaths hits 8,000

The World Health Organisation has said about 8,000 people are thought to have died last year from the Ebola outbreak in west Africa.

The Geneva-based body said the number of confirmed, probable and suspected deaths from the disease in the three most affected countries reached 7,989 by December 31.

The United Nations agency said 2,827 deaths had been reported in Sierra Leone, 3,423 in Liberia and 1,739 in Guinea. It said those countries had a total of 20,381 cases to date.

The current outbreak, which began about a year ago, has also claimed 15 lives elsewhere.

The Ebola virus causes a form of haemorrhagic fever with a high mortality rate. It can be transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood.

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