U.N. chief urges calm over Ebola outbreak

The death toll from the worst ever outbreak of Ebola has reached 1,013. (AFP)

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon announced plans on Tuesday to step up the global response to the Ebola outbreak and bring it under control, while urging government to avoid panic and fear.

Ban appointed British physician David Nabarro to be the U.N. coordinator for Ebola, tasked with overseeing the world body's strategy as the death toll from the outbreak topped 1,000.

"We need to avoid panic and fear. Ebola can be prevented," Ban told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

"With resources, knowledge, early action and will, people can survive the disease.

"Ebola has been successfully brought under control elsewhere and we can do it here too."

Nabarro brings much experience to the challenge of stamping out Ebola, having led the U.N. response to the avian flu and SARS health crises in 2006 and 2003.

The epidemic that began in Guinea, and spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, has been described as the worst since Ebola was first discovered four decades ago.

It has killed 1,013 people, including a Spanish priest who on Tuesday became the first European to succumb to the outbreak that began earlier this year.

The 75-year-old Roman Catholic priest, Miguel Pajares, was being treated in Spain with an experimental U.S. serum, ZMapp, after being flown to Madrid on August 7.

He contracted Ebola at the Saint Joseph Hospital in the Liberian capital Monrovia where he worked with patients suffering from the disease.

An American woman infected in Liberia is recovering in a U.S. hospital.

"In the days ahead, the U.N. system will further strengthen the way we are dealing with the outbreak," the U.N. secretary-general said.

He cited the urgent need to address the shortage of doctors, nurses and equipment, including protective clothing and isolation tents, especially in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

"We need all hands on deck," said Ban.

Experimental drugs

Earlier Tuesday, the World Health Organization said a panel of medical experts has determined it is ethical to provide experimental treatments to patients infected with the deadly Ebola virus.

"In the particular circumstances of this outbreak, and provided certain conditions are met, the panel reached consensus that it is ethical to offer unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects, as potential treatment or prevention," the U.N.'s health agency said in a statement.

The largest number of reported new deaths have been in Liberia, where 29 people died, followed by 17 in Sierra Leone and six in Guinea, the WHO said in a statement on its website. The total number of cases rose to 1,848, it said.

 

 

 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:44 - GMT 06:44
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