News / Africa

WHO Pulls Staff After Worker Infected With Ebola in Sierra Leone

FILE - Medical staff working with Medecins sans Frontieres bring food to patients isolated at a treatment center in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, July 20, 2014.
FILE - Medical staff working with Medecins sans Frontieres bring food to patients isolated at a treatment center in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, July 20, 2014.
Reuters

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday it had shut a laboratory in Sierra Leone after a health worker there was infected with Ebola, a move that may hamper efforts to boost the global response to the worst ever outbreak of the disease.

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

At least 1,427 people have died and 2,615 have been infected since the disease was detected deep in the forests of southeastern Guinea in March. A separate outbreak was confirmed in Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday.

The WHO has deployed nearly 400 of its own staff and partner organizations to fight the epidemic of the highly contagious hemorrhagic fever, which has struck Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria.

Nigeria's health minister said on Tuesday his country had “thus far contained” the Ebola outbreak, with only one of 13 confirmed cases being treated in isolation.

The WHO said it had withdrawn staff from the laboratory testing for Ebola at Kailahun -- one of only two in Sierra Leone -- after a Senegalese epidemiologist was infected with Ebola.

“It's a temporary measure to take care of the welfare of our remaining workers,” WHO spokesperson Christy Feig said, without specifying how long the measure would last. “After our assessment, they will return.”

Feig said she could not assess what impact the withdrawal of WHO staff would have on the fight against Ebola in the Kailahun, the area hardest hit by the disease.

One of the deadliest disease known to man, Ebola is transmitted by contact with body fluids and the current outbreak has killed at least 120 healthcare workers.

The Senegalese medic -- the first worker deployed by WHO to be infected -- will be evacuated from Sierra Leone in the coming days, Feig said. He is currently being treated at a government hospital in the eastern town of Kenema.

Congo outbreak

With its resources stretched by the West African outbreak, medical charity Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Tuesday it could provide only limited help to tackle Congo's outbreak.

A report from the U.N. mission in Congo on Tuesday said 13 people there had died from Ebola, including five health workers.

Congo said on Sunday it would quarantine the area around the town of Djera, in the isolated northwestern jungle province of Equateur, where a high number of suspected cases has been reported. It is Congo's seventh outbreak since Ebola was discovered in 1976 in Equateur, near the Ebola river.

“Usually, we would be able to mobilize specialist hemorrhagic fever teams, but we are currently responding to a massive epidemic in West Africa,” said Jeroen Beijnberger, MSF medical coordinator in Congo. “This is limiting our capacity to respond to the epidemic in Equateur Province.”

However, the charity said it would send doctors, nurses and logistics experts to the region and would work with the government to open an Ebola case management center in Lokolia.

Congo's Health Minister Felix Kabange Numbi said on Sunday the outbreak in Equateur was a different strain of the virus from the deadly Zaire version in West Africa.

The WHO plans to send protective equipment for medical staff in Equateur.

Sierra Leone and Liberia -- struggling to recover from a decade of civil war in the 1990s -- have seen their healthcare systems overwhelmed by Ebola, the first outbreak in West Africa.

US health official: Ebola has 'upper hand'

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is visiting Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the three hardest-hit countries, this week.
 
On Tuesday, he continued his visit in Liberia, which has the most cases and deaths.
 
"Lots of hard work is happening, lots of good things are happening," Frieden told a meeting attended by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Monday. "But the virus still has the upper hand."
 
But he expressed optimism that the outbreak can be contained.
 
"Ebola doesn't spread by mysterious means, we know how it spreads," Frieden said in his remarks, which were broadcast on Liberian TV. "So we have the means to stop it from spreading, but it requires tremendous attention to every detail."
 
Liberia has resorted to some of the most stringent measures to control the disease, including sealing off an entire slum neighborhood in the capital. Sirleaf has also declared a state of emergency and ordered all her ministers and top government officials to remain in the country or return from any trips.

Liberia orders government ministers home

Sirleaf issued orders on Tuesday that any official of ministerial rank who had not returned to their duties would be dismissed. Civil servants who failed to report for work would also have their salaries suspended, a presidency official told Reuters.

Some Liberian officials have been fleeing the country or just not turning up at work for fear of contracting the virus.

It was not immediately clear how many officials would be affected by the presidential order.

Liberia said a ban on travel to the region imposed by neighboring countries was complicating the fight against Ebola and leading to shortages of basic goods.

“Isolating Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea is not in any way contributing to the fight against this disease,” Information Minister Lewis Brown said. “How do we get in the kinds of supplies that we need? How do we get experts to come to our country? Is that African solidarity?”  

Some information for this report provided by AP.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: eusebio manuel vestias from: Portugal
August 27, 2014 7:21 AM
Ebola is a problem of global society the international community must leam from the mistakes and take seriously the communicable diseases more investment and more reserch

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs