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Ebola threatens growth as costs squeeze budgets - Moody's

Chris Kay

The worst outbreak of the virus to date and the efforts to contain it will impact African economies.

The Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 1 000 people, the worst since the virus was first identified in 1976, and has now spread to Nigeria. (AFP)

The world’s worst outbreak of Ebola may inflict “broad” economic damage on the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

Commercial and transport disruptions that will probably last for at least the next month, along with increased health expenditure, may put pressure on budgets, jeopardising the nations’ economic growth, Matt Robinson, a senior credit officer at Moody’s in London, wrote in a report on Thursday.

“Ebola threatens to have significant economic and fiscal ramifications for a number of sovereigns in the region,” Robinson said. “The outbreak risks having a direct financial effect on government budgets via increased health expenditures that could be significant, and an indirect effect arising from an Ebola-induced economic slowdown on government revenue generation in a region where budgets are already hindered by low tax collection.”

The outbreak that has killed more than 1 000 people, the worst since the virus was first identified in 1976, has spread to Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation of about 170-million. There is no cure for the disease, which is normally treated by keeping patients hydrated, replacing lost blood and using antibiotics to fight opportunistic infections.

Three people have died so far in Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer. Should it spread further, “the consequences for the west African oil and gas industry would be considerable,” Robinson said.– Bloomberg

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