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WHO Warns Unsafe Procedures Hurting Anti-Ebola Efforts

A Liberian teacher takes the temperatures of students arriving for morning lessons as part of the Ebola prevention measures at the BW Harris High School in Monrovia, Feb. 16, 2015.

The World Health Organization says anti-Ebola efforts in West Africa are being undermined by unsafe burials and a failure to identify dozens of Ebola cases.

Health officials have warned for months that to stop the Ebola virus from spreading, suspected cases must be isolated and tested, and those killed by Ebola must be buried by workers wearing special protective gear.

But the WHO's Ebola situation report says in the week ending February 15, there were 39 unsafe burials in Guinea along with 45 in Sierra Leone.

Ebola in West Africa, deaths and confirmed cases
Ebola in West Africa, deaths and confirmed cases

It says there were an additional 40 cases in which people were confirmed to have Ebola only after they died, away from treatment facilities.

The U.N. agency said the fact that they were not isolated put members of their communities at greater risk for exposure to the virus.

Health officials in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have built networks to trace suspected Ebola cases and bring them to special facilities for testing and treatment.

The WHO saud various communities in Guinea and Sierra Leone continue to resist containment measures and cooperation with health workers. The WHO reported a number of what it called security incidents in both countries last week.

Fifty-two new Ebola cases were reported in Guinea last week, along with 74 in Sierra Leone. Liberia, the third country heavily affected by the outbreak, reported only two new cases in the four days up to February 12.

The total number of Ebola cases since the outbreak began last year now stands at more than 23,000. The total number of deaths is up 9,365.