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Liberia Minister in Quarantine after Driver Dies of Ebola

Liberia Minister in Quarantine after Driver Dies of Ebola

A Liberian minister said Thursday she had gone into quarantine voluntarily after her driver died of the Ebola virus sweeping west Africa.

Liberia has been the hardest hit by the epidemic, with 2,458 deaths out of 4,249 cases, according to World Health Organization figures. The disease has claimed nearly 4,500 lives overall in west Africa.

Transport Minister Angela Cassell-Bush said she had quarantined herself after her personal driver became sick.

“I did not have any direct contact with him but I am doing it by precaution,” she said in a statement, adding that she would stay away from work for 21 days under agreed protocols.

It was not immediately known when her driver died.

Liberia’s chief medical officer, Bernice Dahn, meanwhile said she had returned to work on Monday after being placed in quarantine for 21 days following the death of her deputy last month.

International efforts increased to help the worst-hit countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, after the UN Security Council on Wednesday called for efforts to “accelerate and dramatically expand” aid to stop the epidemic.

The Liberian presidency said that Germany had promised to take charge of an Ebola treatment centre being built by the WHO in Paynesville, an eastern suburb of Monrovia.

The German coordinator for Ebola, Walter Johannes Lindner, pledged the aid during a visit to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Wednesday, according to a statement from the presidency.

Lindner also said that more than 3,000 people in Germany had volunteered to fight Ebola in Liberia, it added.

In neighbouring Sierra Leone, President Ernest Bai Koroma sought help with testing during a visit by the administrator of USAID, Rajiv Shah, and Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende on Wednesday.

“We need to increase the capacity of our laboratories so they can treat 500 to 600 samples a day, as quickly as possible,” Koroma said in a statement.

Shah later told President Alpha Conde in Guinea that the United States was ready to build a diagnostic and treatment centre in the country, according to a presidency statement Thursday.

All three worst hit countries are still far from their current targets for treating the disease.

Liberia has six out of 28 planned treatment centres with a capacity of 620 beds out of an estimated 2,930 necessary. It has only enough health workers for 16 of the 28 centres, according to the WHO.

Sierra Leone has 346 out of 1,198 beds needed and Guinea has 160 out of an estimated 260 needed.

Anthony Banbury, the Senior United Nations System Coordinator for Ebola, on Tuesday called for 2,700 extra beds in December, to add to 4,300 already planned, to keep up with the spread of the virus.

Laboratories can currently analyse 470 samples per day in Liberia, 300 per day in Sierra Leone and 200 per day in Guinea, according to the WHO.

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