Thursday 26 April 2018

Ebola aid workers having to help sick without masks or gloves

Medical staff in Liberia
Medical staff in Liberia
A UNICEF worker holds a poster bearing information about best practices to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus, in Conakry, Guinea. Reuters / UNICEF

Charlie Cooper

International aid workers combating West Africa's Ebola outbreak lack basic protective clothing such as face masks, gloves and protective body suits, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said, as affected countries announced that they would be sending troops to enforce quarantine zones in the worst-hit areas.

The WHO is calling on the international community to donate an additional $100m (€75m) to the Ebola relief effort as the outbreak enters its sixth month, with no sign of infection rates slowing.

Fears over the safety of health workers in the region have already led one aid agency, the US Peace Corps, to withdraw 340 volunteers from the region.

As many as 600 extra medical staff are required on the ground in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, said WHO spokesperson Gregory Hartl.

"We need staff on the ground, above all, people in the clinics, at the coalface," he said.


"Another thing we need to do is to ensure that the medical workers are properly protected. We don't just need people, we need the equipment."

There have already been well-publicised cases of health professionals contracting the virus themselves. Ebola is transmitted through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.

Sierra Leone, which has seen the most cases of Ebola, announced yesterday that police and military forces would be sent in to affected areas to control movement to and from quarantined areas.

In Liberia, security forces have been ordered to "enforce" infection control measures, including the quarantining of "several communities".

In just four days last week, 121 new cases and 56 deaths were recorded across the three affected countries.

One man has also died in Nigeria, after travelling by plane via Togo and Ghana – sparking a new wave of international concern about the outbreak, which has now claimed 729 lives. (© Independent News Service)

Independent News Service

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News