Ebola May Have ‘Catastrophic’ Economic Cost – World Bank

The World Bank warned that the economic costs of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa will escalate to “catastrophic” proportions if the virus spreads, while Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama criticized the international response to the disease.

“If other countries in the vicinity in the subregion of West Africa fail to do what Nigeria and Senegal have done — which is to keep things under control — then the costs will become much much larger,” Francisco Ferreira, World Bank chief economist for Africa, said in a Sept. 19 interview in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital.

The spread of the virus may cost Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three nations where most infections have taken place, as much as $809 million, the World Bank said on Sept. 17. Early findings of the lender’s research into the economic risks of the disease spreading to other countries show the damage could be more severe, he said.

Mahama said in an interview in New York yesterday that the Ebola outbreak may reduce gross domestic product in the region by about 3.6 percent. Funds pledged by international donors haven’t yet flowed in and a “panic response” by closing borders and airlines canceling flights are further damaging the worst-hit economies, he said.

“These resources should be fast-tracked so that the countries have the resources to be able to fight the disease,” he said.

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