09/24/2014 11:11 am ET Updated Sep 24, 2014

Top Liberian Official Warns Ebola Crisis May Plunge The Country Back Into Conflict

A top official in Liberia's government warned on Wednesday that the Ebola outbreak ravaging through West Africa may have disastrous consequences for the peace and stability of the region.

Liberia's Information Minister Lewis Brown told the Agence France Presse that the slow response to the Ebola outbreak could cause the region to "slip back into conflict."

"Hospitals are struggling, but so too are hotels," Brown said. "Businesses are struggling. If this continues the cost of living will go to the roof. You have an agitated population."

"The effect of Ebola is being seen not just as a public health situation but it is also a political situation," he added. "Liberia is just 10 years out of our conflict."

Brown's comments come just one day after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released worrying predictions of the possible spread of the disease if the global response remains inadequate. It said that in the worst case scenario, Liberia and Sierra Leone combined may see up to 1.4 million cases of Ebola by Jan. 20, 2015.

So far, there have been 5,800 cases of Ebola reported, a majority of them in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. More than 2,800 deaths have been recorded. Yet many experts, including doctors at the CDC, believe the numbers are actually much higher, as many cases go unreported.

Liberia has been the country worst hit by the Ebola outbreak, with more than 3,000 registered infections and more than 1,500 deaths. The country has seen a 52 percent increase in cases in the past three weeks alone.

The few hospitals in Liberia that are equipped to take care of the sick are severely strained. CNN reports that in the capital of Monrovia, there is an estimated shortage of 700 beds for Ebola patients, forcing them to wander from clinic to clinic in search of a place to get treatment. The crisis has crippled the country's already fragile health care system and has severely strained its economy.

Several countries, including the United States, have pledged to help the country cope with the outbreak. President Obama announced last week that the U.S. is sending 3,000 troops to West Africa to help combat the disease and will build 1,700 beds in Liberia for treatment.



Ebola in West Africa