Ebola outbreak: US aid workers infected with virus evacuated from Liberia for treatment

The Americans are being flown to Atlanta for isolation treatment after contracting the highly infectious disease

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The Independent Online

Two US aid workers infected with the Ebola virus are being evacuated out of West Africa within the next few days, as health officials warned the outbreak of the virus is moving “faster than our efforts to control it”.

The Pentagon confirmed on Friday that a chartered flight was due to land at Dobbins Air Base in Marietta, Georgia. The two Americans are being flown one at a time from Liberia to the Emory University Hospital’s containment unit for treatment.

The patients were helping respond to the worst West African Ebola outbreak on record with the North Carolina-based Christian organization Samaritan's Purse and missionary group SIM USA when they contracted the disease.

The flights are expected to carry Dr Kent Brantly, 33, and 59-year-old a missionary Nancy Writebol.

The aircraft transporting them has been fitted with a portable tent designed for patients with highly infectious diseases, according to the Associated Press. The hospital was set up with the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and is physically separate from other patient areas, providing a high level of clinical isolation.

"We have a specially designed unit, which is highly contained. We have highly trained personnel who know how to safely enter the room of a patient who requires this form of isolation," Bruce Ribner, an infectious disease specialist at Emory, told a news conference on Friday.

The news comes just a day after the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that if the situation continued to deteriorate there is a “high risk” that the virus would spread to other countries.

According to the WHO’s official figures, at least 729 people have died in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria, but the figure is likely to be higher. 

Dr Margaret Chan, the WHO’s director general, said many frightened patients fleeing hospital isolation wards had led to Ebola’s “chains of transmission” moving “underground” – meaning that many cases were not being recorded.

Fear and loathing: an Ebola virus; the disease has now spread to Liberia and, for the first time, Sierra Leone and Nigeria,

The International Air Transport Association has not recommended any restrictions to air travel, but a number of airlines have suspended flights.

Dubai's Emirates announced on Saturday it had suspended flights to Guinea, one of the West African countries affected by an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.Ebola cases first emerged in the nation of Guinea back in March, and later spread across the borders to Liberia and Sierra Leone. The outbreak is now the largest recorded in world history, and has infected three African capitals with international airports.