UK & World News

  • 31 July 2014, 9:35

Ebola Crisis: Two US Volunteers In Isolation

Two American volunteers have been placed in isolation amid fears they could have contracted the virus in West Africa.

The pair - working for America's Peace Corps movement - have not displayed symptoms but are under observation after coming into contact with an ebola sufferer, who later died.

The Peace Corps said it was evacuating 340 volunteers from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the three countries worst affected in the outbreak.

The virus - which has no vaccine, no specific treatment and a fatality rate of up to 90% - has now killed more than 670 in west Africa.

Liberia has closed schools and is considering quarantining some communities and closing markets in areas bordering Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Many civil servants have also been told to stay at home for 30 days.

The measures were announced after an isolation unit treating people in the capital Monrovia was revealed to be overrun with cases.

It has forced health workers to treat up to 20 new patients in their homes.

Liberia's Information minister Lewis Brown told Reuters: "This is a major public health emergency.

"It's fierce, deadly and many of our countrymen are dying and we need to act to stop the spread

"We need the support of the international community now more than ever. We desperately need all the help we can get."

A lack of effective communication has led to misinformation about the virus spreading in Liberia, with rural communities accusing foreign aid workers of bringing in the deadly virus.

Others blamed the government with one man setting fire to the health ministry building in Monrovia after his teenage brother reportedly died of ebola.

The concerns prompted Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to issue an urgent warning.

She said: "My fellow Liberians, ebola is real, ebola is contagious and ebola kills.

"Denying that the disease exists is not doing your part, so keep yourselves and your loved ones safe."

Two airlines have suspended flights to some of the affected countries.

So far, one US citizen has died from ebola, in Nigeria, after he took a flight from Liberia.

Two other American aid workers infected with ebola, Dr Kent Brantly and missionary Nancy Writebol, are in a serious condition but are said to have improved overnight.

Dozens of health workers are said to have died while treating patients.

The EU allocated an additional ?2m (1.58m) to fight the outbreak on Wednesday, bringing total funding to ?3.9m (3.08m).

Hong Kong said it was quarantining all people from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia who showed ebola-like symptoms arriving in the city.

In Britain, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said "precautionary measures" had been put in place amid fears the virus could spread globally.

Doctors have been put on alert to spot symptoms of the deadly disease.

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