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Doomsday warning: UN Ebola chief raises ‘nightmare’ prospect that virus could mutate and become airborne – making it much more infectious

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  • UN warns Ebola virus currently plaguing West Africa could become airborne
  • The longer it moves between human hosts the greater possibility of mutation
  • The risk grows the longer virus is living within the human ‘melting pot’
  • NGOs have said the Ebola virus is currently infecting five people every hour
  • More than 3,300 people have died from Ebola since the outbreak first began
  • Officials call for 1,000 new Sierra Leone isolation centres to contain virus
  • British survivor says ‘horror’ of children dying from disease must be avoided
  • Will Pooley was first Briton to contract virus after working in Sierra Leone
  • Thomas Eric Duncan is the first person to be diagnosed in the U.S. 
  • He flew into Texas from Liberia, touching down in Brussels and Washington
  • Up to 100 people in Texas are feared to have come into contact with him
  • Doctors at the hospital in Texas said he was in a serious but stable condition

The longer the Ebola epidemic continues infecting people unabated the higher the chances it will mutate and become airborne, the UN’s Ebola response chief has warned.

Anthony Banbury, the Secretary General’s Special Representative, has said there is a ‘nightmare’ prospect the deadly disease will become airborne if it continues infecting new hosts.

His comments come as organisations battling the crisis in West Africa warned the international community has just four weeks to stop its spread before it spirals ‘completely out of control’.

And the British nurse who survived the disease said the ‘horror and misery’ of watching young children die from the disease must be avoided ‘at all costs’.

Mr Banbury told the Telegraph that aid workers were fighting a race against time amid fears the disease will begin to mutate.

He said: ‘The longer it moves around in human hosts in the virulent melting pot that is West Africa, the more chances increase that it could mutate.

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‘It is a nightmare scenario, and unlikely, but it can’t be ruled out.’

He also admitted the international community had been late to respond to what was the worst disaster he had ever witnessed.

He said: ‘In a career working in these kinds of situations, wars, natural disasters – I have never seen anything as serious or dangerous or high risk as this one.’

Addressing the Defeating Ebola conference in London today, British nurse Will Pooley, 29, pleaded with the world’s governments to do all they could to stop children dying from the disease.

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