13 Oct 2014

Ebola rattling business world

9:58 am on 13 October 2014

The outbreak of the fatal disease Ebola has demonstrated how fragile economic confidence is, knocking stock markets and creating alarm globally.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim. Photo: AFP / Getty Images North America

Nearly 4000 people have died in the West African countries Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, while the number of confirmed and suspected cases outside the region is growing.

International health officials and government representatives from the worst-affected countries have taken part in a meeting hosted by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington.

The situation has prompted the IMF to ease its rules to allow the affected West African countries to borrow more and run up bigger deficits - something it would normally oppose.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim estimates that if Ebola is not contained, it could cost the region as much as $US33 billion.

"People are going hungry and are unable to go to work. At least six million children are unable to go to work and thousands have been orphaned," he said.

"Many businesses have shut down their operations, farmers are unable to harvest crops, airline flights are being cancelled, trade has diminished. Growth projections for 2014 of the three most affected countries have already been cut significantly."

World leaders including New Zealand's Finance Minister Bill English will meet tomorrow in Washington to discuss the global economy and what is ahead for the next 12 months.

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  • NZ spends $80,000 on Ebola