Ebola outbreak: Do more to save our countries from tragedy, Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf urges West

'Ebola is not just a health crisis. Across West Africa, a generation of young people risks being lost to an economic catastrophe,' she said

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The Independent Online

The Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, warned on Sunday that the economic impact of Ebola in her country and its neighbours threatened to leave a “lost generation” of young Africans, as she urged the international community to do more to arrest it.

“We all have a stake in the battle against Ebola,” Ms Sirleaf said in a letter read on the BBC World Service. “It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves against an enemy that they do not know, and against whom they have little defence.”

President Barack Obama stressed at the weekend that the US – where one Liberian national has died in Texas and two nurses who treated him tested positive for Ebola – and the rest of the world should focus on sending money and assistance to fight the disease in West Africa. The outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people in the region, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The same message was delivered by Britain’s International Development Secretary, Justine Greening, who stressed the need for European countries to step up assistance. The international community had to “take a stand” and EU leaders “do need to do more”, she said.

 

In her message, Ms Sirleaf stressed the potential economic fallout from the outbreak. “Ebola is not just a health crisis. Across West Africa, a generation of young people risks being lost to an economic catastrophe,” she said. “The time for talking or theorising is over. Only concerted action will save my country, and our neighbours, from another national tragedy.”

Mr Obama, who urged US citizens not to “give in to hysteria or fear”, again convened a meeting of his top officials, including the secretaries of defence and homeland security, on Saturday to discuss the ongoing effort to contain the disease. Some of those who had contact in the US with the Liberian who died, Thomas Duncan, have been removed from the list of those being monitored as they pass the 21-day incubation period for Ebola. 

Hundreds of people who flew with the second of the two nurses diagnosed, Amber Vinson, on one of two aircraft she boarded shortly before she became ill, have also been contacted.  They included people who flew on the same planes after her, before the aircraft were taken out of service for deep cleaning.

A separate drama ended yesterday when a Carnival Cruise Lines ship sailed back into Galveston, Texas, with a woman passenger who had been put into strict quarantine on board when it emerged she was among medical laboratory technicians who had handled specimens from Mr Duncan.

Showing no signs of Ebola, the passenger and her husband were taken off the ship, which had been turned away from one of its stops – Cozumel in Mexico – because of their presence on board.

In other developments, a British nurse who survived Ebola has flown back to Sierra Leone, where he caught the virus, to rejoin efforts to tackle the epidemic. William Pooley said he was “delighted” to return to help prevent “as many unnecessary deaths as possible” from the disease.

In Madrid, a nurse who became infected with Ebola in Spain was given the all-clear today, nearly two weeks after she was hospitalised.

Teresa Romero, 44, is the first person known to have contracted the disease outside West Africa in the current outbreak. Spain, meanwhile, has agreed to allow the US to use two military bases in the south-west of the country to support its efforts to combat Ebola in West Africa.

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