The World Bank is to allocate $200 million in emergency assistance for West African countries battling to contain the Ebola outbreak.
The money will be distributed to the governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea as well as to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The number of people killed in the outbreak has reached 887, the WHO says.
The World Bank’s announcement came as African leaders including 35 presidents discuss the crisis in Washington.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim – an expert on infectious diseases – said that he was “deeply saddened” by the spread of the virus and how it was contributing to the breakdown of “already weak health systems in the three countries”.
“I am very worried that many more lives are at risk unless we can stop this Ebola epidemic in its tracks,” he said.
The World Bank will allocate $200 million in emergency assistance for West African countries battling to contain the Ebola outbreak
In the short term, the money will be used to pay health workers, dispel rumors about the disease in local communities and address the immediate needs of getting sick people into health facilities.
Over the long term, the funds will be used to help countries deal with the economic impact of the outbreak and to monitor the spread of the disease.
The package is now awaiting approval by the World Bank’s Board of Directors, though officials say the confirmation could come as early as this week.
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) say preliminary research suggests the epidemic is likely to shave one percentage point from Guinea’s economic output this year.
In other developments:
- Nigeria has recorded its second Ebola case – one of the doctors who treated a man who died from the virus after his arrival from Liberia
- Liberia has ordered that the bodies of people killed by the Ebola virus must be cremated following the refusal of some communities to allow the burial of victims on their land.
The Ebola virus spreads by contact with infected blood and bodily fluids.
Touching the body of someone who has died of Ebola is particularly dangerous.
The evacuation of the second US health worker to become infected in Liberia, nurse Nancy Writebol, is expected later.
Nancy Writebol will be flown to Atlanta in the US to a special isolation ward at Emory University Hospital, where Dr. Kent Brantly, who arrived from Liberia on Saturday, is being treated by infectious disease specialists.
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Nurse Nancy Writebol, the second American missionary stricken with Ebola, is expected to fly Tuesday to the US for treatment, following her colleague, Dr. Kent Brnatly, who was admitted over the weekend to Emory University Hospital’s infectious disease unit in Atlanta.
A Liberian official confirmed to the Associated Press plans for Nancy Writebol to depart with a medical evacuation team. The evacuation flight was scheduled to leave West Africa between 1 a.m. and 1.30 a.m. local time on Tuesday.
Nancy Writebol is in good spirits despite her diagnosis, said the pastor of her hometown church in Charlotte, North Carolina, who has spoken with her husband, David.
“She is holding her own,” the Rev. John Munro said.
John Munro’s Calvary Church is a nondenominational evangelical congregation that sponsors the Writebols as missionaries in Liberia, one of the West African nations grappling with the worst outbreak of Ebola ever recorded there.
Nnacy Writebol’s mission team partner, Dr. Kent Brantly, was improving Sunday after he was admitted to Emory’s quarantine unit a day earlier, according to a statement from his wife.
Nurse Nancy Writebol is expected to fly Tuesday to the US for treatment
“Our family is rejoicing over Kent’s safe arrival, and we are confident that he is receiving the very best care,” Amber Brantly said, adding that she was able to see her husband Sunday.
Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol served on the same mission team treating Ebola victims when they contracted the virus themselves. Kent Brantly was serving as a physician in the hospital compound near Monrovia, Liberia, when he became infected. They said Nancy Writebol worked as a hygienist whose role included decontaminating those entering or leaving the Ebola treatment area at that hospital.
There is no cure for Ebola, which causes hemorrhagic fever that kills at least 60% of the people it infects in Africa. Ebola spreads through close contact with bodily fluids and blood, meaning it is not spread as easily as airborne influenza or the common cold. Africa’s under-developed health care system and inadequate infection controls make it easier for the Ebola virus to spread and harder to treat.
Any modern hospital using standard infection-control measures should be able to handle it, according to medical experts, and Emory’s infectious disease unit is one of about four in the US that is specially equipped to test and treat people exposed to the most dangerous viruses.
Patients are quarantined, sealed off from anyone who is not in protective gear. Lab tests are conducted inside the unit, ensuring that viruses don’t leave the quarantined area. Family members can see and communicate with patients only through barriers.
Dr. Kent Brantly arrived Saturday under stringent protocols, flying from West Africa to Dobbins Air Reserve base outside Atlanta in a small plane equipped to contain infectious diseases. A small police escort followed his ambulance to Emory, where he emerged dressed head to toe in white protective clothing and walked into the hospital on his own power.
The US public health officials continue to emphasize that treating Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol in the US poses no risks to the public here.
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The US will send at least 50 public health experts to West Africa to help fight the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola.
A senior US health official said the Ebola outbreak was out of control but insisted it could be stopped.
Ebola has claimed 728 lives in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone this year. The current mortality rate is about 55%.
Meanwhile, an American doctor infected with the virus is improving in hospital after returning to the US from Liberia.
Dr. Kent Brantly arrived at a military base in Georgia on Saturday before being driven to Emory University Hospital.
Another infected American, aid worker Nancy Writebol, is expected to arrive in the US soon.
The US will send at least 50 public health experts to West Africa to help fight the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola
The virus spreads through human contact with a sufferer’s bodily fluids.
Initial flu-like symptoms can lead to external hemorrhaging from areas like eyes and gums, and internal bleeding which can lead to organ failure.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), announced the new US measures in an interview with ABC’s This Week.
“We do know how to stop Ebola. It’s old-fashioned plain and simple public health: find the patients, make sure they get treated, find their contacts, track them, educate people, do infection control in hospitals.”
The experts would arrive in West Africa within 30 days to fight what he called the “scary” disease.
He rejected fears that this would put more US citizens in harms way.
“The single most important thing we can do to protect Americans is to stop this disease at the source in Africa” he said.
The plane carrying Dr. Kent Brantly was outfitted with a special portable tent designed for transporting patients with highly infectious diseases.
The same aircraft is due to bring missionary Nancy Writebol from West Africa.
The hospital facility which will treat both patients is one of four in the US able to handle Ebola patients.
US officials say they are confident the patients can be treated without putting the public in any danger.
The National Institutes of Health in the US has said it will begin testing a possible Ebola vaccine in September.