Date
13 December 2017
Officials of the Medecins Sans Frontieres visit the Elwa hospital in the Liberian capital of Monrovia, which is run by the non-governmental organization for Ebola victims. Photo: AFP
Officials of the Medecins Sans Frontieres visit the Elwa hospital in the Liberian capital of Monrovia, which is run by the non-governmental organization for Ebola victims. Photo: AFP

US plans worker surge to fight Ebola in West Africa

The United States is sending more federal workers to West African countries hit by Ebola, in a bid to replace workers of global aid groups who have fled, Bloomberg News reported.

Washington has also hired an air-ambulance company that evacuated two infected US citizens in July to transport workers infected by the deadly virus, the report said.

About 1,400 US government employees are in the region now, and more are on the way, the State Department said in a document released on Thursday. The worker “surge” is intended to fill the vacuum left by global aid workers who have fled the affected areas, it said.

In July, two Americans infected with Ebola in Liberia were evacuated to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta by Phoenix Air Group based in Cartersville, Georgia.

The State Department will pay the company as much as US$4.9 million over six months to evacuate any US workers who become infected in the future, according to the document.

Four US agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, are “preparing to surge into the region, significantly increasing the population at risk”.

“The world finds itself a bit flat-footed in its ability to move patients infected with these pathogens,” said William Walters, director of the Office of Operational Medicine at the State Department. “That’s something that we at the State Department take very seriously.”

As of Sept. 6, at least 2,296 have died from the Ebola outbreak and 4,269 infected, data from the World Health Organization showed.

In Seattle, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation committed US$50 million to aid efforts to contain the outbreak.

The US Agency for International Development, meanwhile, pledged US$10 million to transport about 100 health workers provided by the African Union to Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, the report said.

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