The representative from Guinea's seat remains empty during
the opening session at the AGOA Forum during the US-Africa
Leaders Summit in Washington. The leaders of Guinea and
Sierra Leone have skipped the summit to deal with the ebola
crisis in their nations. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
Hundreds of troops have been deployed in Sierra Leone and
Liberia to fight the worst outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus,
as the death toll climbed to 887 and three new suspected cases
of the highly contagious disease were reported in Nigeria.
With healthcare systems in the West Africa nations completely
overrun by the epidemic, the African Development Bank said it
would immediately disburse $50 million to Sierra Leone,
Liberia and Guinea - the countries worst affected - as part
of an international effort to contain it.
The World Health Organization, which warned last week of
catastrophic consequences if the disease were not controlled,
reported 61 new deaths in the two days to Aug. 1. The
outbreak began in February in the forests of Guinea, where
the toll continues to rise, but its epicentre has since
shifted to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone.
In Nigeria, where U.S. citizen Patrick Sawyer died of Ebola
in late July after arriving from Liberia, the WHO reported
three new cases, two of them probable and one suspected.
Nigerian authorities had said earlier on Monday that a doctor
who treated Sawyer had contracted the disease, but a health
ministry official declined to comment on the discrepancy.
Panic among local communities, which have attacked health
workers and threatened to burn down isolation wards, prompted
Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to impose tough measures
last week, including the closure of schools and the
quarantine of the remote forest region hardest hit by the
Long convoys of military trucks ferried troops and medical
workers on Monday to Sierra Leone's far east, where the
density of cases is highest. Military spokesman Colonel
Michael Samoura said the operation, code-named Octopus,
involved around 750 military personnel.
Troops will gather in the southeastern town of Bo before
travelling to isolated communities to implement quarantines,
he added. Healthcare workers will be allowed to come and go
freely, and the communities will be kept supplied with food.
In neighbouring Liberia, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and
ministers held a crisis meeting on Sunday to discuss a series
of anti-Ebola measures as police contained infected
communities in the northern Lofa county.
Police were setting up checkpoints and roadblocks for key
entrance and exit points to those infected communities, with
nobody allowed to leave quarantined communities. Troops were
fanning out across Liberia to help deal with the emergency.
"The situation will probably get worse before it gets
better," Liberian Information Minister Lewis Brown told
Reuters. "We are over-stretched. We need support; we need
resources; we need workers."
WHO SEEKING FUNDS
WHO chief Margaret Chan warned regional leaders on Friday
that Ebola was outpacing their efforts to contain it and
pledged to organise a $100 million international response to
bring the outbreak under control. U.S. officials and
multilateral agencies were due to discuss the emergency at a
three-day U.S.-Africa summit in Washington, starting on
A Reuters witness in the Liberian capital Monrovia said
several clinics were spontaneously closing their doors as
doctors were too afraid to treat patients. More than 60
doctors have already died of Ebola, hampering efforts to
control the outbreak. [ID:ID:nL6N0Q90QY]
Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which
normally spearheads the fight against Ebola, has only a small
team in Liberia and says it does not have the capacity to
Health workers say they are overwhelmed by the number of
cases, a scenario exacerbated by the departure of some
international staff following the infection of two U.S. staff
of the Samaritan's Purse charity in Liberia.
One of them, Kent Brantly, was improving on Sunday after
being flown back to the United States for treatment. The
second staff member, Nancy Writebol, was expected to arrive
back in the United States by midday on Tuesday, according to
The normally bustling streets of Sierra Leone's capital
Freetown were eerily quiet on Monday after President Ernest
Bai Koromo called on residents to stay home and pray, a
Reuters reporter said.
Ambulances and police vehicles lined the streets, while radio
stations played interviews with health ministry officials and
a musical jingle informing the local population of symptoms.
Highly contagious, the deadliest strain of the Ebola virus
can kill up to 90 percent of those infected, though in the
current outbreak the rate is running around 55 percent.
Symptoms initially include muscle pains and joint aches,
though they worsen to vomiting, diarrhoea and internal and
external bleeding in the final stages.
Officials seeking to bury Ebola victims faced protests at a
burial site in a suburb of Monrovia this weekend and about 25
soldiers were called in to guard the site.