Obama pledges 3,000 military personnel to west Africa as Ebola outbreak worses

United States has approved sending thousands of personal to Liberia to set up 17 Ebola centres

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The Independent Online

President Obama said yesterday the United States will send 3,000 military personnel to Ebola-stricken countries in west Africa.

Mr Obama will offer Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf aid to construct 17 new Ebola treatment centres in the region, equalling around 1,700 treatment beds.

Previously the Pentagon had offered Liberia a 25-bed portable hospital.

The American administration's change of pace comes after Mr Obama’s visit to the Federal Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, as fears rise the virus could spread if it mutates into a more easily transferable contagion.

“We all recognize that this is such an extraordinary, serious epidemic,” a senior official told the New York Times, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of Mr Obama’s public remarks yesterday. Alongside the 17 health care facilities, the U.S. is promising to train as many as 500 health care workers a week; set up a joint command in Monrovia, Liberia; provide home care kits to hundreds of thousands of households, including 50,000 that the U.S. Agency for International Development will deliver to Liberia this week; and implement a home and community campaign to train local populations how to deal with infected individuals.

U.S. forces will be on the ground in roughly two weeks.

Ebola has killed more than 2,400 people out of 4,784 cases so far. The virus is focused in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

On Friday Sarah Crowe, a spokeswoman for UNICEF, spoke via phone from Monrovia, Liberia.

"It is quite surreal and everywhere there is a sense of this virus taking over the whole country," Ms Crowe said. "We do not have enough partners on the ground. Many Liberians say they feel abandoned."

Last week Liberia’s defence minister Brownie Samukai told the UN Security Council that the national existence of his country was “serious[ly]” threatened by the Ebola virus.

Two weeks ago medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres issued a damning critique of world leaders’ reaction to the outbreak, labelling their response: “lethally inadequate”.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated it needs 500-600 foreign experts and at least 10,000 health workers on the ground in order to beat the disease.

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