Liberia has warned it may slip back to civil war along with neighbouring Sierra Leone if the Ebola epidemic ravaging West Africa is allowed to continue to spread.

Information Minister Lewis Brown said the lack of urgency in the international response risked allowing a breakdown of societies in the region, where the outbreak has claimed almost 3,000 lives.

"Hospitals are struggling, but so too are hotels. Businesses are struggling. If this continues the cost of living will go to the roof. You have an agitated population," Mrs Brown told AFP late Monday.

"The world cannot wait for Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to slip back into conflict, which could be the result of this slowness in response."

CHRONIC SHORTAGES

More than 3,000 people have been infected in Liberia and almost 1,600 people have died, with health workers turning away people from treatment units due to chronic shortages of beds and staff.

Sierra Leone, where more than 1,800 have been infected and nearly 600 have died, said Monday it had "an overflow of bodies", after a controversial nationwide lockdown helped uncover more than 200 new cases.

The World Health Organization warned on Tuesday that the number of Ebola infections will triple to 20,000 by November, soaring by thousands every week if efforts to stop the outbreak are not stepped up radically.

Liberia has spent a decade recovering from two ruinous back-to-back civil wars which ran from 1989 to 2003, leaving a quarter of a million people dead and the economy in tatters.

EBOLA THREATENING SOCIETY

Page 1 of 2