The worst outbreak of the virus on record has ravaged the
impoverished West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and
Guinea and led to a global watch for cases outside the region.
Mali must now trace other people who had contact with the
25-year-old nurse and three others infected, just as an initial
group of people linked to its first case completed their 21-day
quarantine on Tuesday. Ebola's maximum incubation period is 21 days.
The more than 90 quarantined in Bamako included about 20 United
Nations peacekeepers being treated at the capital's Pasteur Clinic,
where the nurse worked, officials said. Police locked down the
clinic on Tuesday night.
In Sierra Leone, more than 400 health workers at one of its few
Ebola treatment centres went on strike over unpaid risk allowances,
officials said. Some returned later in the day.
Echoing that walkout were protests and strikes by nurses across the
United States over what they characterized as insufficient
protection for health workers dealing with potential Ebola patients.
Two nurses, who treated a Liberian man who died of the disease at a
Dallas hospital in October, contracted the virus but recovered.
California-based National Nurses United had expected about 100,000
nurses nationwide to participate in the protest, but officials from
the union could not say how many people participated.
In Washington, the Obama administration tried to assure sceptical
U.S. senators that its efforts to combat Ebola were making progress
and urged lawmakers to approve $6.2 billion in new emergency funds
to contain the virus.
"We believe we have the right strategy in place, both at home and
abroad," U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell
told the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Separately, the general leading the Ebola fight said the U.S.
military force being sent to Liberia to build treatment facilities
was expected to top out at about 3,000 troops in December, 1,000
less than initially approved.
Ebola has killed at least 5,160 people out of at least 14,098
infected since March, predominantly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and
Guinea, the WHO said in its latest status report from Geneva.
However, in a rare piece of good news, the WHO said there were signs
that the incidence of new cases was declining in Guinea and Liberia,
although it reported steep increases in Sierra Leone.
In Bamako, the nurse died after treating a Guinea man who died with
Ebola-like symptoms that were not initially recognised, the
The man, a Muslim imam from the border town of Kouremale, was never
tested for the virus. In a series of rites that may have exposed
many mourners to infection, his highly contagious body was washed in
a Bamako mosque and returned to Guinea for burial without
The WHO said there were now four confirmed and probable Ebola deaths
in Mali, adding that one was a friend who had visited the imam in
the hospital. The group did not immediately give details on the
[to top of second column]
A doctor at the Pasteur Clinic, one of Bamako's leading medical
centres and the default clinic for expatriates, was also suspected
of having Ebola and was being monitored.
The U.N. peacekeepers, who were at the clinic for injuries sustained
while serving in Mali's turbulent north, were quarantined as a
precaution, the U.N. mission said, without specifying their
The government said the nurse was confirmed with Ebola on Tuesday
and died later that evening. All necessary steps to identify people
who had contact with the nurse were taken, it said.
Liberia, hardest hit of all with 2,836 deaths out of 6,822 cases,
was another focal point on Wednesday in the battle against Ebola.
U.S. Army General Gary Volesky, who is heading up the U.S. military
Ebola effort in Liberia, told a Pentagon telephone briefing that
fewer U.S. troops were needed there than initially expected because
the military had discovered greater-than-anticipated local capacity
for building treatment centres.
In the capital, Monrovia, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on a tour of that country,
Sierra Leone and Guinea. Blair said $2 billion would be needed over
the next few years to build more resilient public services, provide
basic infrastructure and create jobs in Liberia, according to a
statement from Sirleaf's office.
Despite the epidemic, the United Nations is not seeing signs of
deteriorating security in Liberia, and some public authorities are
even showing strength after years of post-civil war rebuilding, U.N.
peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said.
"There is some good news in the midst of this serious crisis,"
Ladsous told the Security Council in New York.
(Fixes typo in first paragraph)
(Additional reporting by Tiemoko Diallo in Bamako, Alphonso Toweh in
Monrovia, Umaru Fofana in Freetown, David Morgan, David Alexander
and Phil Stewart in Washington, and Michelle Nichols at the United
Nations; Writing by Jonathan Oatis; Editing by Jon Boyle)
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