A deadline of December 1 to contain the Ebola virus will not be fully met due to escalating numbers of cases in Sierra Leone and elsewhere, the UN Ebola Emergency Response Mission which had set the target, said. 

The mission set the goal in September, seeking to have 70 percent of Ebola patients under treatment and 70 percent of Ebola victims safely buried. That target will be achieved in some areas, head of UNMEER Anthony Banbury told Reuters news agency, citing progress in Liberia.

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"We are going to exceed the December 1 targets in some areas. But we are almost certainly going to fall short in others. In both those cases, we will adjust to what the circumstances are on the ground," he said in an interview.

Banbury has said the areas of greatest concern are in rural parts of Sierra Leone as well as the city of Makeni in the centre of the country and Port Loko in the northwest.

Improving surveillance

Surveillance to prevent further cross-border spread of the disease must be improved, he added, given the transmission of the disease overland from Guinea into Mali, where at least six people have now died.

The death toll in the worst Ebola epidemic on record has risen to 5,459 out of 15,351 cases identified in eight countries by the end of Nov. 18, the World Health Organization said on Friday. The vast majority of those cases are in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

US Brigadier General Frank Tate, deputy commanding general of US forces helping Liberia fight the epidemic said on Monday that there has been dramatic improvement in the situation in the country considered the worst-hit by the outbreak.

Meanwhile, an Italian doctor who has been working in Sierra Leone has tested positive for the Ebola virus and is being transferred to Rome for treatment, the health ministry said Monday. It is Italy's first confirmed case of Ebola.

The doctor, who was not identified and who works for the non-governmental organization Emergency, is scheduled to arrive overnight in Italy for treatment at the Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome.

Source: Agencies