US officials say Ebola virus poses threat to humanity
Ebola represents a threat to all humanity and an outbreak of the virus in five West African countries will likely spread to more, American officials warned yesterday.
"This is not an African disease. This is a virus that is a threat to all humanity," Gayle Smith, special assistant to President Barack Obama and senior director at the National Security Council, told reporters during a telephone briefing.
About half of the 3,000 people sickened have died in the current Ebola outbreak, which has hit Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal.
The disease is spreading faster than health workers can keep up with it, said Tom Kenyon, of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who recently visited the affected region and who also spoke in the briefing.
But Kenyon said that the world has the tools to stop the outbreak; they just have to be put in place. He said more treatment centres are currently being opened and that he is about to start negotiations with the African Union to send more health workers.
"I think we're confident if we put these treatment units up, the health workers will come, but of course they have to be adequately trained and supervised and equipped with personal protective equipment," he said.
Many on the ground have said there aren't enough protective suits for health workers, who have become infected in large numbers in this outbreak. The US government is "ramping up significantly" donations of protective gear, said Smith, the Obama adviser.