Ebola fears grow across globe
Updated: 2014-08-01 07:19
European, Asian nations on alert; epidemic said to be out of control
Fears that the African Ebola outbreak could spread to other continents grew on Wednesday with European and Asian countries on alert and a leading medical charity warning the epidemic was out of control.
A volunteer hands out pamphlets to educate the public on the Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia. An isolation unit for Ebola victims in the city is overrun with cases and health workers are being forced to treat up to 20 new patients in their homes. Reuters
US Christian charity Samaritan's Purse was temporarily withdrawing its non-essential staff from Liberia, it said, citing regional "instability and ongoing security issues".
Hong Kong announced quarantine measures for suspected cases, although one woman arriving from Africa with possible symptoms tested negative, while the EU said it was ready to deal with the threat.
The International Civil Aviation Organization has held talks with global health officials on potential measures to halt the spread of the disease.
In Britain, where one person has tested negative for the disease, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said it was regarded as "a very serious threat".
An emergency meeting had decided that the best approach was to provide "additional resources to deal with the disease at source" in West Africa, he added.
Ebola can kill victims within days, causing severe fever and muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea and, in some cases, organ failure and unstoppable bleeding.
Since March, there have been 1,201 cases of Ebola and 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization.
The US Peace Corps announced on Wednesday it was pulling hundreds of volunteers from the three countries.
There are currently 102 Peace Corps volunteers in Guinea working on agriculture, education and health, 108 in Liberia and 130 in Sierra Leone.
|Sierra leone declares health crisis|
|The president of Sierra Leone declared a public health emergency as the Ebola virus, blamed for nearly 700 deaths, spread across West Africa. He vowed to quarantine sick patients at home and conduct house-to-house searches for others who may have been exposed.
The announcement from President Ernest Bai Koroma late on Wednesday came as neighboring Liberia also ramped up its efforts to slow the virulent disease's spread, shutting down schools and ordering most public servants to stay home from work.
"Extraordinary challenges require extraordinary measures. The Ebola virus poses an extraordinary challenge to our nation," he said in a televised address to the nation.