"There are lots of missing deaths in this epidemic," Christopher Dye, WHO's strategy chief said estimating that around 5,000 fatalities could be missing from the count.

This assessment, he said, was based on the knowledge that the fatality rate in the epidemic centred in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone stands at about 70 per cent. But with total reported cases of infections reaching 13,042 suggests that many of the deaths were going unrecorded.

Many people were burying the dead in secret, possibly to avoid having authorities interfere with burial customs like washing and touching the deceased widely blamed for much of the transmission.

The UN's health agency has created confusion with its latest figures of Ebola cases and deaths, which have shown shrinking numbers. The toll provided Wednesday night showed 4,818 deaths, down from 4,951 reported on October 31, while the number of reported cases fell to 13,042 from 13,567.

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