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WHO predicts at least $430M needed to contain Ebola

GENEVA -- More than $430 million will be needed to bring the worst Ebola outbreak on record under control, according to a draft document laying out the World Health Organization's battle strategy.

The plan sets a goal of reversing the trend in new cases within two months, and stopping all transmission in six to nine months. It requires funding by governments, development banks, the private sector and in-kind contributions, according to the document obtained by Bloomberg News.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Republic of Congo said as many as 13 people have died of Ebola in a separate outbreak from the one raging in three West African nations. It is the sixth reported outbreak in Congo since 1976.

Laboratory tests in two cases were positive for Ebola in a remote village in the northwestern corner of the country, while 11 more suspected victims of the virus had died, Lambert Mende, the country's information minister, said.

The strain of Ebola in Congo is different from the one seen in West Africa, according to Mende. Among the dead are a doctor and four nurses, he said. The area where the deaths occurred is "under quarantine," he said. "No one will enter, no will leave."

Also, the deputy chief medical officer of Liberia's John F. Kennedy Medical Center, Abraham Borbor, died even after being treated with ZMapp, Liberian Information Minister Lewis Brown said Monday. Borbor was one of three health care workers receiving the drug in Liberia.

ZMapp was also used on two American aid workers who were evacuated to the United States after being infected in Liberia. Closely held Mapp, based in San Diego, has said its supply of the drug is exhausted.

The outbreak, which has killed 1,427 people in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, may soon exceed all previous Ebola outbreaks combined. The sum now being sought is six times more than the $71 million the WHO suggested was needed in a plan published less than a month ago.

"At a global level, $430 million for something this serious should not be an insurmountable goal," said J. Stephen Morrison, director of the global health policy center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

The WHO plans to publish the plan by the end of this week at the earliest and details may change, said Fadela Chaib, a spokeswoman for the Geneva-based agency. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed health crisis expert David Nabarro earlier this month to coordinate the UN response.

The European Commission and aid groups including Doctors Without Borders have criticized the WHO for a lack of leadership in coordinating the fight against the outbreak. Morrison said the scale of the disease's devastation goes far beyond what health officials have seen previously.

"I don't think that it's a question of incompetence or complacency," Morrison said. "It's the fact we're catching up with the unknown, and it's way ahead of us."

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