With healthcare systems in the West Africa nations overrun by the
epidemic, the African Development Bank and World Bank said they
would immediately disburse $260 million to the three countries worst
affected - Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
The World Health Organization, which warned last week of
catastrophic consequences if the disease were not controlled,
reported 61 new deaths in the two days to Aug. 1 as the disease
continues to spread.
The outbreak began in February in the forests of Guinea. The toll
there continues to rise, but the epicenter has since shifted to
neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone.
In Nigeria, where U.S. citizen Patrick Sawyer became the first
person to die of the virus after arriving from Liberia in late July,
the WHO reported three new cases, two of them probable and one
Nigerian authorities had said earlier on Monday that a doctor who
treated Sawyer had contracted the disease. A health ministry
official declined to comment on the discrepancy.
Panic among local communities, which have attacked health workers
and threatened to burn down isolation wards, prompted Sierra Leone,
Liberia and Guinea to announce tough measures last week, including
the closure of schools and the quarantine of the remote forest
region hardest hit by the disease.
Long convoys of military trucks ferried troops and medical workers
on Monday to Sierra Leone's far east, where the density of cases is
highest. Military spokesman Colonel Michael Samoura said the
operation, code-named Octopus, involved around 750 military
Troops will gather in the southeastern town of Bo before traveling
to isolated communities to implement quarantines, he added.
Healthcare workers will be allowed to come and go freely, and the
communities will be kept supplied with food.
In neighboring Liberia, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and
ministers held a crisis meeting on Sunday to discuss a series of
anti-Ebola measures as police contained infected communities in the
northern Lofa county.
Police were setting up checkpoints and roadblocks for key entrance
and exit points to those infected communities, which nobody will be
allowed to leave. Troops were deploying to badly affected areas to
prepare to enforce the measures.
"The situation will probably get worse before it gets better,"
Liberian Information Minister Lewis Brown told Reuters. "We are
over-stretched. We need support; we need resources; we need
WHO SEEKING FUNDS
WHO chief Margaret Chan warned regional leaders on Friday that Ebola
was outpacing their efforts to contain it and pledged to organize a
$100 million international response to bring the outbreak under
control. U.S. officials and multilateral agencies were due to
discuss the emergency at a three-day U.S.-Africa summit in
Washington, which started on Monday.
A Reuters witness in the Liberian capital Monrovia said several
clinics were spontaneously closing their doors because doctors were
too afraid to treat patients. More than 60 doctors have already died
of Ebola, hampering efforts to control the outbreak.
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Health workers in Liberia say they are overwhelmed by the number of
cases, a condition exacerbated by the departure of some
international staff following the infection of two U.S. aid workers
One of them, 33-year-old Dr. Kent Brantly, was receiving treatment
in an isolation ward at the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta
after being flown back to the United States for treatment on
A medical flight carrying the second American left Liberia at 0111
GMT on Tuesday (9:11 p.m. EDT Monday), a Reuters witness said.
Missionary Nancy Writebol, 59, was expected to arrive in the United
States by midday, when she would also be taken to Emory for
treatment, according to Samaritan's Purse.
A spokesperson for the charity confirmed a CNN report that Brantly
and Writebol were both treated with an experimental serum developed
by biotech firm Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc while in Liberia,
apparently showing initial signs of an improvement. Medical charity
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which normally spearheads the fight
against Ebola, has only a small team in Liberia and says it does not
have the capacity to increase it.
The normally bustling streets of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown
were eerily quiet on Monday after President Ernest Bai Koromo called
on residents to stay home and pray, a Reuters reporter said.
Ambulances and police vehicles lined the streets, while radio
stations played interviews with health ministry officials and a
musical jingle informing the local population of symptoms.
Highly contagious, the deadliest strain of the Ebola virus can kill
up to 90 percent of those infected, though in the current outbreak
the rate is running around 55 percent. Symptoms initially include
muscle pains and joint aches, then worsen to vomiting, diarrhea and
internal and external bleeding in the final stages.
Officials seeking to bury Ebola victims faced protests at a burial
site in a suburb of Monrovia this weekend and about 25 soldiers were
called in to guard the site.
(Additional reporting by Daniel Flynn and Emma Farge in Dakar, Tom
Miles in Geneva, Tim Cocks in Nigeria and Lesley Wroughton in
Washington; Writing by Emma Farge and Daniel Flynn; Editing by Will
Waterman, Larry King and Lisa Shumaker)
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