By Elise Viebeck - 10/14/14 09:22 AM EDT
Global health officials said Tuesday that the death rate in the Ebola epidemic has risen to 70 percent, up from 50 percent.
The World Health Organization (WHO) made the announcement at a news conference in Geneva, where officials said there could be up to 10,000 new cases of the virus every week within two months.
WHO Assistant Director-General Dr. Bruce Aylward underscored the need for a more robust international response to Ebola with a timetable.
If the effort to fight Ebola is not intensified within 60 days, he said, deaths will mount and the virus will become even harder to control.
The news comes as U.S. health officials try to understand how a nurse caring for an Ebola patient in Dallas contracted the virus herself.
The case, confirmed over the weekend, is the first ever transmission of Ebola in the United States and raises questions about hospitals' preparedness to cope with infectious diseases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Monday it would “rethink” its strategy on Ebola, but warned reporters that it has little authority to enforce best practices at hospitals.
A “relatively large” number of healthcare workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas were put at risk during care of the original Ebola patient, who died a week ago.
Hospital records uncovered by The Associated Press pegged the number at roughly 70 medical personnel.
It is still unclear exactly how the nurse who became ill, identified by family as 26-year-old Nina Pham, contracted Ebola while wearing protective gear.
The case is dominating national news coverage as the White House calls on health officials to take “immediate additional steps” to ensure preparedness for Ebola.
President Obama met with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia BurwellSylvia Mathews BurwellHHS launches contest to make bills simpler Obama administration takes step to reform Medicare payments Rubio breaks with GOP, backs Obama Zika request MORE and other leaders Monday to discuss the effort.
It has been one month since Obama announced a stepped up response to Ebola in West Africa, including sending troops to strengthen Liberia's medical infrastructure.
The Pentagon will deploy 4,000 service members for a mission it said could last “about a year.” The troops will construct 17 treatment centers by the end of November and assist in streamlining the logistics of the international medical response.
A select group will also work in mobile labs to diagnose Ebola cases using fluid samples, defense officials said last week.