Last week in Sierra Leone, the Ebola infection marched on at a rate of five infections every hour, a statistic that highlights the still-deteriorating situation in West Africa.
The World Health Organization announced on Wednesday that the virus' spread shows no signs of slowing. Now, more than 7,157 people have been infected and 3,330 had died in Liberia Sierra Leone and Guinea as of Sept. 28.
According to Save the Children, the sheer number of deaths in Sierra Leone in particular has created a desperate humanitarian crisis for children who are often left by behind, orphaned by dead parents, or are dying alone at home and in the streets. Last week alone, there were 765 new cases in a country with only 327 beds, the organization said.
"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," said Rob MacGillivray, Save the Children's country director in Sierra Leone in plea for treatment in that country. "Children, more than anyone, are suffering painful, anonymous and undignified deaths at home. It's very difficult at this stage to even give accurate figures on the number of children who are dying from Ebola, as monitoring systems cannot keep pace with the outbreak."
The WHO has also emphasized that the known numbers of Ebola infections and deaths likely vastly underestimate the virus' true toll. In some parts of each of those countries, the virus continues to spread rapidly, unchecked. In other parts, such as the Beyla district of Guinea, which borders neighboring Ivory Coast, the virus has now appeared for the first time.
"Transmission remains persistent and widespread in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with strong evidence of increasing case incidence in several districts," the WHO said. "There are few signs yet that the EVD epidemic in West Africa is being brought under control."
Aid is now on its way from several countries, including the United States, which has dispatched a military unit to Liberia to build hospitals and coordinate the logistics of delivering aid to workers on the ground. The British government has also pledged a 700-bed hospital in Sierra Leone. But the impact of these efforts may not be felt for weeks or months.
Meanwhile, the current rate of transmission and deaths continues to grow rapidly.
In London, representatives from 20 different countries, including the U.S., France, Japan and Australia, are gathering Thursday for an Ebola Donors Conference to discuss the international response to the crisis, according to the BBC.