World Bank trims estimate of Ebola economic cost

21 january 2015, 12:32

 The World Bank trimmed its estimates of the economic damage of the Ebola epidemic Tuesday, but warned that the three main affected countries would still bear a heavy cost, AFP reports.

After warning last October that the outbreak, which has killed more than 8,600, could wreak $25 billion in economic losses across all of West Africa, the bank said that with Ebola now broadly contained, the toll could run to $6.2 billion.

However, the epidemic "will continue to cripple the economies of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone even as transmission rates in the three countries show significant signs of slowing," it said.

For those three countries, where most of the infections and deaths have been recorded, the losses from foregone economic growth could hit $1.6 billion this year, less than the previous $2 billion warning the Bank gave.

The Bank credited the actions of policymakers and aid workers to stem the spread of Ebola, lowering the risk that it would spread across the borders from the three hard-hit countries.

"The lower estimates also reflect fast and effective containment measures taken in the neighboring countries of Mali, Nigeria and Senegal, all of which have now been declared Ebola-free," the Bank said.

In the best case, it added, the impact on the whole region could be as low as $500 million, it added.

"As welcome as these latest signs are, we cannot afford to be complacent. Until we have zero new Ebola cases, the risk of continued severe economic impact to the three countries and beyond remains unacceptably high," said World Bank president Jim Yong Kim.

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