The United Nations will set up a crisis center to coordinate the response to Ebola in West African countries in an effort to contain the deadly virus, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters Friday.
Following multiple sessions of the U.N.'s Ebola Coordination Meeting, Ban said he believed the spread of Ebola in the region could be contained in six to nine months with proper management and resources in excess of $600 million that he hoped governments, financial institutions, the private sector and non-governmental organizations would provide.
"The number of cases is rising exponentially," said Ban. "The disease is spreading far faster than the response. People are increasingly frustrated that it is not being controlled."
"[W]e agreed to establish an Ebola crisis centre to bring synergy and efficiency to the efforts of these many partners within and beyond the United Nations, " he said.
Ban urged shipping companies and airlines not to cancel travel to the affected countries, saying that it wouldn't prevent the spread of Ebola and that it creates another potential disaster when medical and food supplies can't make their way to the places that need it the most.
"Banning flights and shipping services will not keep Ebola from spreading, but it will keep medical teams from reaching people most in need," he said. "Stigma and rumor can do just as much damage as the virus itself. It is crucial to remember that Ebola can be avoided and controlled."
According to the World Health Organization, more than 3,500 confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola have been reported and more than 1,900 people have died since March in West Africa, including Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. Separately, the Democratic Republic of Congo has also suffered an outbreak.