One of the largest Ebola treatment centers opened Friday in Liberia, as the death toll from the disease continues to rise in West Africa.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf thanked the international community for its part in opening the 200-bed center, which was built with help from American soldiers and will be operated by Cuban doctors.
"So today, we applaud you, we honor you, we thank you for demonstrating what it is in the interest of humanity — reaching across the ocean, across the vast lands for most of you, to come and to be with us as we try to fight this, recognizing that it is a global trek, but at the same time it's a national disaster," Sirleaf said.
"It is heartening to see that we are finally perhaps catching up with that boulder, if not in front of it," said Deborah Malac, the U.S. ambassador to Liberia. "It [the epidemic] was rolling down the hill at a speed that we were never going to catch, we thought two months ago. But we are starting to make progress. It is important that we not let up."
In Mali, a 2-year-old girl who brought Ebola to the country may have had contact with as many as 141 people, 57 of whom have yet to be traced, according to health experts concerned that the disease could spread in Mali and beyond.
Two people known to have had contact with the girl were suspected of having the disease, according to a slide presentation by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seen by Reuters news agency.
On Friday, the WHO reported the death toll from Ebola has risen to 4,951, with most of the fatalities in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The agency slightly lowered the number of overall Ebola cases to 13,567, mainly because some suspected cases in Guinea turned out to be false.
The U.N. agency also issued new guidelines for health workers treating Ebola patients, recommending that they double up on gloves and completely cover their eyes, mouths and noses. It said the choice of protective gear is much less important than how that gear is put on and taken off.
In the United States, a judge in Maine ruled Friday against a mandatory quarantine that the state had sought to impose on a nurse who returned from treating Ebola patients in West Africa.
The judge said Kaci Hickox was showing no signs of Ebola and was free to travel but must notify health officials immediately if her health situation changes.
Hickox had said the quarantine violated her civil rights. She refused to comply with the state's quarantine measures Thursday and went on a bicycle ride with her boyfriend. She also shook hands with a reporter this week, after an impromptu news conference.
Ebola has a 21-day incubation period and spreads through contact with an infected person's bodily fluids. The deadly virus causes fever, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea.