UN Ramps Up Response in the Fight Against Ebola

by Bidita Debnath on  October 4, 2014 at 11:03 PM Research News   - G J E 4
As the head of the UN's response agency headed to Sierra Leone to lead the fight against an epidemic he called the world's "highest priority", the US prepared to fly home a cameraman who contracted Ebola in Liberia.
 UN Ramps Up Response in the Fight Against Ebola
UN Ramps Up Response in the Fight Against Ebola

The freelancer, who was working for NBC news, discovered he was running a fever on Wednesday, his network said, and is in quarantine in a Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) treatment centre.

Hired by NBC only three days ago, he is the fourth American to contract Ebola in Liberia.

The cameraman's name was not revealed, but NBC said he "has been working in Liberia on various projects for the past three years".

Anthony Banbury, head of the UN Mission on Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), travelled to Sierra Leone on Friday for the second leg of a tour of the three hardest-hit nations.

"The only way we will end this crisis is if we end every single last case of Ebola so there is no more risk of transmission to anyone, and when that's accomplished, UNMEER will go home," he told journalists on Thursday in the Liberian capital Freetown.

The UN envoy said he was intent on contributing to "the highest priority for the international community -- for the whole world, not just the United Nations".

US health officials meanwhile were monitoring 100 people in Texas who had potential contact with a Liberian man diagnosed with Ebola. Four family members were also ordered to stay home.

The man -- the first person to be diagnosed with the deadly disease on US soil -- flew from Liberia and arrived in Texas September 20 to visit family.

- 'Terrifying' infection rate -

By far the most deadly epidemic of Ebola on record has spread into five west African countries since the start of the year, infecting more than 7,000 people and killing about half of them.

The virus, spread through infected bodily fluids, can only be transmitted when a patient is experiencing the symptoms -- severe fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and, in some cases, massive internal haemorrhaging and external bleeding.

The World Health Organization said in its latest situation update there was still a "significant shortfall" in capacity in west Africa, with 1,500 more beds needed in Liberia and 450 in Sierra Leone.

Around 160 health professionals pledged by Cuba to Sierra Leone arrived Thursday, reported an AFP correspondent at the airport near Freetown.

Meanwhile Doctors Without Borders, the global aid agency leading the response with 3,000 staff, including some 250 Western volunteers, has criticised the inadequacy of international aid, saying it desperately needs medical teams rather than cash.

Britain asked for foreign help to battle Ebola in Sierra Leone, a former colony which has seen 600 deaths, on Thursday at a London conference gathering 20 countries and world organisations.

A charity, Save the Children, warned as the conference began that five people are being infected with Ebola every hour in Sierra Leone and demand for treatment beds is far outstripping supply.

If the current "terrifying" rate of infection continues, 10 people will be infected every hour with the deadly virus in the country by the end of October, the London-based group warned.

Britain has pledged Ģ120 million ($190 million, 150 million euros) to help build an estimated 700 treatment beds, fund new community treatment centres, support existing public health services and support aid agencies in Sierra Leone.

US oil giant ExxonMobil said it had limited employee travel to the west African countries hit by Ebola, and delayed the start of an exploration well in Liberia.

Burkina Faso said cycling race Tour Du Faso, which was to be held from October 23 to November 2, would be suspended due to fears of Ebola.

And Germany said that a Ugandan doctor who had contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone while working for an Italian non-governmental organisation had been hospitalised in Frankfurt, the second Ebola patient to be treated in the country.

Source: AFP

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