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EU scales up aid to tackle Ebola outbreak in West Africa

Development Policy

EU scales up aid to tackle Ebola outbreak in West Africa

Medical staff working with Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) prepare to bring food to patients kept in an isolation area at the MSF Ebola treatment centre in Kailahun. [Reuters]

The European Commission has pledged an additional €2 million to tackle the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, amid fears that the virus will spread to other parts of the world.

The additional funding brings the total EU aid money disbursed to tackle the Ebola outbreak to €3.9 million.

The money will go to the UN World Health Organisation (WHO), Médecins Sans Frontières and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

The Ebola outbreak is the largest of its kind ever recorded, according to the WHO.

The virus has spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia from south-eastern Guinea, from where the outbreak originates. A man is also believed to have died from the virus in Lagos, the most populated city in Nigeria.

More than 670 people have died from the virus and there have been 1,200 cases to date. About nine out of every ten Ebola victims dies from the virus, which is transmitted by wild animals or infected patients.

Fruit bats, which are commonly eaten in West Africa, are believed to be a carrier of the virus.

West Africa - Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Outbreak, situation on 29 July 2014 [European Commission JRC]West Africa – Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Outbreak, situation on 29 July 2014 [European Commission JRC]

“The level of contamination on the ground is extremely worrying and we need to scale up our action before many more lives are lost,” Kristalina Georgieva, the European commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis response.

“The EU itself has deployed experts to the affected countries to help assess the situation and coordinate with the authorities. But we need a sustained effort from the international community to help West Africa deal with this menace”.

Two US aid workers have been infected by the virus. Sierra Leone’s top Ebola doctor is also believed to have died from the illness. Authorities have been testing people returning from the countries where the Ebola is present.

The EU said that the risk of the virus spreading to Europe is currently low, as most of the cases are in remote areas and aid workers and authorities are encouraging people infected with Ebola or those who may have been near infected people or areas to remain isolated.

An EU medical official said that the virus did not spread easily through usual human activity or gatherings. People usually contract the disease through contact with the bodily fluids of those infected, whether human or animal.

Liberia has closed its borders and suspended the national football league to prevent the virus from spreading.

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