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“Aversion behavior” threatens Ebola catastrophe says World Bank

WASHINGTON, DC: With Brussels Airlines one of the few airlines still providing services to Monrovia, Liberia, a World Bank economic impact report says the cost to the three countries worst-affected by the Ebola virus that has already killed 3,800 people will reach US$815 million next year.

Noting that Nigeria and Senegal have successfully stopped the spread of the virus so far, the bank warns that if the outbreak is not contained by the end of the year and spreads to neighboring countries, the economic cost to the region could reach US$32.6 billion by the end of 2015.

US military Ebola responseAccording to its latest analysis, the economic impact of Ebola in Liberia and Sierra Leone could become catastrophic under a slow-containment, "High Ebola" scenario. The bank says this could be avoided if immediate action alleviates the "aversion behavior" that is causing neighboring countries to close their borders and airlines to suspend flights to the three worst-affected countries.

The bank adds that a similar reaction was responsible for as much as 80 or 90 percent of the total economic impact of the SARS epidemic of 2002-2004 and the H1N1 flu epidemic of 2009.

"With Ebola's potential to inflict massive economic costs on Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone and the rest of their neighbors in West Africa, the international community must find ways to get past logistical roadblocks and bring in more doctors and trained medical staff, more hospital beds, and more health and development support to help stop Ebola in its tracks," said Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group.

The bank has provided US$400 million in assistance while the U.S. says it has already committed US$350 million, including more than US$111 million in humanitarian aid, as it begins flights to Roberts International airport, Monrovia (right) as part of a US$1 billion Ebola logistics response effort.

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