• Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Liberia declares Ebola emergency

BBC Online
An outreach worker speaks with residents about the information on the symptoms of Ebola virus disease (EVD) and best practices to help prevent its spread, in Freetown, Sierra Leone in this August, 2014 handout photo provided by Unicef August 6. Photo: Reuters
An outreach worker speaks with residents about the information on the symptoms of Ebola virus disease (EVD) and best practices to help prevent its spread, in Freetown, Sierra Leone in this August, 2014 handout photo provided by Unicef August 6. Photo: Reuters

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has declared a state of emergency as the country grapples with an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

Speaking on national television she said some civil liberties might have to be suspended.

The Ebola outbreak has also hit Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, killing more than 930 people.

World Health Organization (WHO) experts are meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss a response to the outbreak.

The two-day meeting will decide whether to declare a global health emergency.

'EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES'

Ebola, a viral haemorrhagic fever, is one of the deadliest diseases known to humans, with a fatality rate of up to 90%. It is spread through contact with the bodily fluids of Ebola patients showing symptoms.

Announcing a state of emergency for 90 days, President Sirleaf said in a statement that the government and people of Liberia required "extraordinary measures for the very survival of our state and for the protection of the lives of our people".

She said that "ignorance and poverty, as well as entrenched religious and cultural practices, continue to exacerbate the spread of the disease".

Observers say the Ebola crisis in Liberia has got worse because many people are keeping sick relatives at home instead of taking them to isolation centres.

Amid international concern over the spread of the virus, US President Barack Obama said that the illness "can be controlled and contained very effectively if we use the right protocols.

"The countries affected are the first to admit that what's happened here is the public health systems have been overwhelmed. They weren't able to identify and then isolate cases quickly enough.

"As a consequence, it spread more rapidly than has been typical with the periodic Ebola outbreaks that occurred previously," the president said.

He said that the US was working with Europe and the WHO to provide resources to contain the epidemic.

Nigeria's Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu described the outbreak as a national emergency, adding that "everyone in the world is at risk" because of air travel.

Published: 11:36 am Thursday, August 07, 2014

Last modified: 9:05 pm Thursday, August 07, 2014

TAGS: Nigeria Ebola World Health Organization Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

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