UK-based NGO Save The Children claimed Wednesday that five people are infected with the Ebola virus every hour in Sierra Leone, causing a massive shortage in the medical supplies available in the region. The organization estimated that there were 765 new cases of Ebola in the country last week, while there were only 327 hospital beds available.
The estimate from the group comes as experts are set to meet in London Thursday to discuss a global response to the disease, which has killed 3,091 people people and has infected 6,574 people in West Africa. According to the group the virus is spreading at a “terrifying rate” and the number of people contracting the disease is doubling every few weeks, according to a BBC report. The comment from the charity organization comes as Joanne Liu, president of Doctors Without Borders, had said late last month that the global response for the disease is moving at the "speed of a turtle." Last month, the United Nations had also pledged $1 billion to tackle the worst-ever outbreak of the disease.
The group also said that the scale of the disease is “massively unreported," as "untold numbers of children are dying anonymously at home or in the streets."
"We are facing the frightening prospect of an epidemic which is spreading like wildfire across Sierra Leone, with the number of new cases doubling every three weeks," Rob MacGillivray, the organization’s country director in Sierra Leone, said according to the BBC.
Trials of two experimental drugs are underway in the U.S. and the UK and will soon extend to 10 sites in West Africa, Europe and North America, according to the World Health Organization, while small-scale use of the drug is expected to begin in West Africa next year.
Until now, the drug ZMapp has been used to treat some patients who had contracted the disease, but the supply of the drug is extremely limited.
As the disease spreads rapidly throughout West Africa, the U.S. saw its first patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, infected with Ebola, while authorities fear that medical personnel who were treating him may have contracted the disease too. Another patient in Hawaii is being tested for Ebola, according to the Hawaii Health Department.