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Ebola Has Big Effect on African Economies

FILE -A healthcare worker dons protective gear before entering an Ebola treatment center in the west of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Oct. 16, 2014.

The Ebola epidemic is having a stark economic impact on Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and is cutting economic growth even more sharply than experts estimated last month.

A study released Tuesday by the World Bank notes that all three nations were growing strongly before the Ebola crisis, but Liberia is now likely to grow at an annual rate of just 2.2 percent. Sierra Leone's economy is predicted to expand by 4 percent.

For both Liberia and Sierra Leone, the new economic growth rate is only around one-third of the pre-crisis forecasts. Guinea's slump is even more pronounced: the projection for its economic growth has been cut from 4.5 percent to just one-half of 1 percent now.

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The economic impact of disease and death has been amplified by workers and shoppers staying home to avoid contagion. Reductions in trade, travel and the loss of foreign exports in mining and other industries also has been a factor.

Ebola's impact of Ebola will continue to be felt, the World Bank report said, as rising expenses for health care and falling tax revenue strain national budgets and force governments to move money from infrastructure projects to emergency medical activities.