IMF 'ready to do more' for Guinea, hard-hit by Ebola

WASHINGTON - The president of Guinea, one of the West African nations hard-hit by the Ebola crisis, met Friday with IMF Director Christine Lagarde, who promised the organisation was "ready to do more if needed."

The virus, which emerged in Guinea at the start of the year, has infected around 1,300 Guineans, killing 768 of them.

Global aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres said on Thursday a surge of Ebola cases in Guinea had pushed its treatment unit in the capital Conakry near saturation point.

"Beyond the loss of life and social dislocation, it is threatening to reverse the advances made by these countries in recent years in economic development and poverty reduction," Lagarde said in a statement following a meeting with President Alpha Conde.

"We have already provided US$41 million (S$52.3 million) to Guinea on an emergency basis. We are ready to do more if needed," she said.

The IMF fast-tracked US$130 million in aid two weeks ago to fight the Ebola epidemic after the governments of the worst-hit countries in West Africa said they were desperately counting on promises of global aid to be backed up with cash.

The IMF financing included US$41 million for Guinea, US$49 million for Liberia, and US$40 million for Sierra Leone. The World Health Organisation said 4,033 people have died from Ebola as of October 8 out of a total of 8,399 registered cases in seven countries.

The sharp rise in deaths came as the UN said aid pledges to fight the outbreak have fallen well short of the US$1 billion needed.