Liberia’s chief medical officer had gone into self-quarantine for 21 days, after one of her assistants died last week from the deadly Ebola virus.
Dr. Bernice Dahn, Deputy Health and Social Welfare Minister, said she has felt no symptoms of the virus, but was taking all precautionary measures, including quarantine to stay safe.
According to the World Health Organization or WHO, more than 3,000 people have died from Ebola in West Africa with Liberia being the worst hit by the disease, accounting for 1,830 deaths – 150 of those deaths in the last two days. Health workers have been particularly vulnerable to the virus, which is spread by infected bodily fluids of patients.
Health organizations recommend isolating people for at least 21 days, which is the maximum incubation period for the virus. Dr. Dahn told the BBC on Saturday that she herself decided to go in quarantine in adherence to preventive measures.
According to the chief medical officer, she had not come in contact with any other infected person, apart from her office assistant, who died last week, but wanted to take every precaution. Director Dahn, who had represented Liberia at international Ebola conferences, has also instructed her staff to stay at home for the same period.
The WHO highlighted the risk of infection for health workers trying to stem the outbreak in its latest report released on Friday. It said 375 workers are known to have been infected, and that 211 have so far died from the virus in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, combined.
The deaths and sickness have made it even more difficult for the already weak healthcare systems in the affected countries to cope with the outbreak. There is a severe shortage of hospital beds, especially in Liberia. The latest WHO figures indicate that more than 6,500 people are believed to have been infected in the region in the world’s most deadly Ebola outbreak.
On Friday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pledged $130m emergency aid to the countries worst hit by the virus: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. According to report, some 600 people have died in Sierra Leone and a similar number in Guinea, where the outbreak was first confirmed in March this year.
Senegal, which has also been affected by the virus, is due to receive a flight carrying aid workers from one of the three worst affected countries, Guinea, for the first time on Saturday, AP news agency reports. The World Food Programme spokesman Alexis Masciarelli, said the airport in Dakar has set up a terminal specifically for humanitarian flights where health checks will be conducted.
Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week, US President Obama called for more urgent action in the response to the outbreak. “There is still a significant gap between where we are and where we need to be,” President Obama stressed.