Obama: Stop Ebola before 'hundreds of thousands' infected

US President Barack Obama speaks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sept 16, 2014. President Obama on Tuesday called on the world to "act fast" to stop West Africa's Ebola epidemic before "hundreds of thousands"
US President Barack Obama speaks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sept 16, 2014. President Obama on Tuesday called on the world to "act fast" to stop West Africa's Ebola epidemic before "hundreds of thousands" are infected.-- PHOTO: REUTERS

ATLANTA (AFP) - US President Barack Obama on Tuesday called on the world to "act fast" to stop West Africa's Ebola epidemic before "hundreds of thousands" are infected.

Obama urged a global expanded effort to fight the deadly disease, as he unveiled a major new US initiative which will see 3,000 military personnel posted to West Africa to combat the health crisis.

"Here's the hard truth. In West Africa, Ebola is now an epidemic of the likes that we have not seen before," said Obama. "It's spiralling out of control. It is getting worse. It's spreading faster and exponentially. Today, thousands of people in West Africa are infected. That number could rapidly grow to tens of thousands.

"And if the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people infected with profound political and economic and security implications for all of us.

"So this is an epidemic that is not just a threat to regional security, it's a potential threat to global security if these countries break down, if their economies break down, if people panic."

The Ebola epidemic has killed more than 2,400 people in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.