An outreach worker holds a poster bearing information on
the symptoms of Ebola virus disease (EVD) and best
practices to help prevent its spread, in Freetown, Sierra
Health workers in West Africa have appealed for urgent
help in controlling the world's worst Ebola outbreak as the
death toll climbed to 932 and Liberia shut down a major
hospital where several staff were infected, including a Spanish
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it would ask medical
ethics experts to explore the emergency use of experimental
treatments to tackle the highly contagious disease after a
trial drug was given to two U.S. charity workers infected in
With West Africa's rudimentary healthcare systems swamped, 45
new deaths from Ebola were reported in the three days to Aug.
4, the WHO said. Liberia and Sierra Leone have deployed
troops in the worst-hit areas in their remote border region
to try to stem the spread of the virus, for which there is no
WHO experts began a two-day crisis meeting in Geneva to
discuss whether the epidemic constitutes a "Public Health
Emergency of International Concern" and to consider steps to
help overstretched emergency organisations.
"This outbreak is unprecedented and out of control," said
Walter Lorenzi, head of medical charity Medecins Sans
Frontieres (MSF) in Sierra Leone. "We have a desperate need
for other actors on the ground - not in offices or in
meetings - but with their rubber gloves on, in the field."
International alarm at the diffusion of the virus increased
when a U.S. citizen died in Nigeria last month after flying
there from Liberia. Authorities said on Wednesday that a
Nigerian nurse who had treated Patrick Sawyer had also died
of Ebola, and five other people were being treated in an
isolation ward in Lagos, Africa's largest city.
With doctors on strike, Lagos health commissioner Jide Idris
said volunteers were urgently needed to track 70 people who
came into contact with Sawyer. Only 27 have so far been
"We have a national emergency, indeed the world is at risk,"
Nigeria's Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said after a
weekly cabinet meeting in Abuja. "Nobody is immune. The
experience in Nigeria has alerted the world that it takes
just one individual to travel by air to a place to begin an
In Saudi Arabia, a man suspected of contracting Ebola during
a recent business trip to Sierra Leone also died early on
Wednesday in Jeddah, the Health Ministry said. Saudi Arabia
has already suspended pilgrimage visas from West African
countries, which could prevent those hoping to visit Mecca
for the haj in early October.
Liberia, where the death toll is rising fastest, is
struggling to cope. Many residents are panicking, in some
cases casting out bodies onto the streets of Monrovia to
avoid quarantine measures, officials said.
Beneath heavy rain, ambulance sirens wailed through the
otherwise quiet streets of Monrovia on Wednesday as residents
heeded a government request to stay at home for three days of
fasting and prayers.
"Everyone is afraid of Ebola. You cannot tell who has Ebola
or not. Ebola is not like a cut mark that you can see and
run," said Sarah Wehyee as she stocked up on food at the
local market in Paynesville, an eastern suburb of Monrovia.
St. Joseph's Catholic hospital was shut down after the
Cameroonian hospital director died from Ebola, authorities
said. Six staff subsequently tested positive for the disease,
including two nuns and 75-year-old Spanish priest Miguel
Pajares, who is due to be repatriated by a special medical
aircraft on Wednesday.
TROOPS DEPLOYED IN OPERATION "WHITE SHIELD"
Spain's health ministry denied that one of the nuns - born in
Equatorial Guinea but holding Spanish nationality - had
tested positive for Ebola. The other nun is Congolese.
"We hope they can evacuate us. It would be marvellous,
because we know that, if they take us to Spain, at least we
will be in good hands," Pajares told CNN in Spanish this
More than 60 healthcare workers have died fighting the virus
- a heavy blow in a region where doctors are already in
chronically short supply. Two U.S. health workers from
Christian medical charity Samaritan's Purse caught the virus
in Monrovia and are receiving treatment in an Atlanta
The two saw their conditions improve by varying degrees in
Liberia after they received an experimental drug, a
representative for the charity said. Three of the world's
leading Ebola specialists urged the WHO to offer people in
West Africa the chance to take experimental drugs.
A spokesman for the Liberian government said it would be
willing to allow in-country clinical trials.
Highly contagious, Ebola kills more than half of the people
who contract it. Victims suffer from fever, vomiting,
diarrhoea and internal and external bleeding.
Many hospitals and clinics have been forced to close across
Liberia, often because health workers are afraid of
contracting the virus or because of abuse by locals who think
the disease is a government conspiracy.
In an effort to control the disease's spread, Liberia has
deployed the army to implement controls and isolate severely
affected communities, an operation codenamed "White Shield".
The information ministry said on Wednesday that soldiers were
being deployed to the rural counties of Lofa, Bong, Cape
Mount and Bomi to set up checkpoints and implement tracing
measures on residents suspected of contact with victims.
Neighbouring Sierra Leone said it has implemented new
restrictions at the airport and that it was asking passengers
to take a temperature test. In the east, soldiers set up
roadblocks to limit access to affected areas, MSF's Lorenzi
Some major airlines, such as British Airways and Emirates,
have halted flights to affected countries, while many
expatriates are leaving, officials said. "We've seen
international workers leaving the country in numbers,"
Liberia's Finance Minister Amara Konneh told Reuters.
Randgold Resources - which mines gold in neighbouring Mali
and Ivory Coast - advised its workers not to travel to the
India and Greece advised their citizens on Wednesday against
non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and
Nigeria and said they would take extra measures at entry