The officials, who include six assistant ministers, two deputy
ministers and two commissioners, were dismissed with immediate
effect for being "out of the country without an excuse," according
to a statement from the president's office.
They were initially told in August to return to Liberia.
"These government officials showed insensitivity to our national
tragedy and disregard for authority," said the statement released
late on Saturday. It did not make clear what role the government
expected the officials to play in the response to the crisis, or why
they were out of the country.
The contagious, haemorrhagic fever was first discovered in eastern
Guinea in March and has since killed more than 2,400 people, mostly
in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, making it the worst Ebola
outbreak the world has seen.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the epidemic is
spreading exponentially in Liberia, where more than half of the
deaths have been recorded. It has said that thousands are at risk of
contagion in the coming weeks.
Sirleaf on Saturday appealed to U.S. President Barack Obama for
urgent aid in tackling Ebola.
The disease has taken a particularly heavy toll on healthcare
workers who have stationed themselves on the front lines of the
fight, operating in fragile healthcare systems that have been
stretched to the breaking point.
The first Sierra Leonean female doctor to be diagnosed with Ebola
died on Sunday, two government sources said. Her death adds to the
toll of 144 healthcare workers who have died in Guinea, Sierra Leone
and Liberia, according to Sept. 7 figures from the WHO.
Olivette Buck was head of the Lumley Health Centre in a densely
populated suburb west of the capital Freetown. She tested positive
for the virus on Tuesday, apparently contracting it as she treated
an Ebola patient.
"I can confirm that doctor Olivette Buck died between last night and
this morning," Jarrah Kawusu-Konteh, of the State House
communication unit, told Reuters.
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Doctors are held in high esteem in countries like Sierra Leone that
have a low percentage of trained medical professionals per head of
Buck was the fourth Sierra Leonean doctor to die of Ebola and her
illness prompted calls for her evacuation to the West. Civil society
group WeCare SL and the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association
both urged the government to step in.
President Ernest Bai Koroma also wrote to the WHO on Friday
requesting evacuation, according to a letter seen by Reuters.
The WHO can only evacuate people it has deployed and the aim was to
get them to treatment close to their families, said a WHO spokesman,
adding that it had evacuated two people so far.
"We simply are not in a position to evacuate all health workers who
get infected in those countries. What is needed is to have enough
treatment in those countries so these health workers can have
appropriate treatment, said Tarik Jasarevic.
The U.N. agency is appealing to its U.N. partners as well as
governments, non-governmental organisations to provide help, the
spokesman said by telephone from Geneva.
(Additional reporting by Umaru Fofana in Freetown and Matthew Mpoke
Bigg in Accra; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Larry King)
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