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ALERT -- Ebola cases on rise for first time this year...

HEALTH-EBOLA-WHO

GENEVA (Reuters) - The number of new cases of Ebola rose in all three of West Africa's worst-hit countries last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday, ending several weeks of encouraging declines across the region.

Suspicion of aid workers, especially in Guinea, and unsafe local practices were continuing to hamper efforts to halt the deadly virus, the United Nations agency said.

"An unsafe burial that took place in early January in the (Guinean) eastern prefecture of Lola, on the border with Côte d’Ivoire, has so far resulted in an outbreak of 11 confirmed cases," it said. Investigators had been initially rebuffed by the local population, it added.

Mourners have caught the haemorrhagic disease in the past by touching the highly-contagious bodies of dead loved ones, sometimes by laying hands on them to say goodbye. 

The WHO said a week ago that there had been 99 confirmed cases in the week to Jan. 25, the lowest tally since June 2014, raising hopes that the tide might have turned. 

But its new figures, for the week ending Feb. 1, showed the first recorded rise in new cases across all three countries this year.

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