As West African countries battle to control the outbreak of Ebola, fears that the virus could spread globally has created panic in Europe and the United States.
Meeting in Washington, the World Bank has calculated the alarming cost of contagion.
“The World Bank released a new economic impact assessment that said if the (Ebola) epidemic is not quickly contained and if it spreads to other countries, the two year regional financial impact could reach 32.6 billion dollars by 2015. That would be catastrophic for the people of the West Africa region,” explained Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank.
So far the virus has claimed almost 4,000 lives in West Africa. The number of cases in Europe remains in the single digits.
The economies of the worst-struck countries are under strain. Liberia is facing recession and may need to call upon the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for more aid.
“And we are ready to do more,” announced head of the IMF Christine Lagarde. “It’s very rare for the IMF to say that, but on this occasion I will say it. It is good to increase the fiscal deficit when it’s a matter of curing the people, of taking the precautions to actually try to contain the disease.”
Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma, who joined the meeting via video link, appealed to the major donors saying “our people are dying”. He added that without a quick response a tragedy of untold proportions would result, compromising the security of people across the globe.