Freetown: Another doctor from Sierra Leone has tested positive for Ebola, and an official said Thursday that she would be evacuated abroad for medical treatment.
Olivette Buck is the fourth doctor from the West African country to contract the disease. The other three have died. Arrangements are being made to send her to another country for better treatment, said Health Ministry spokesman Sidie Yahya Tunis.
So far, only Westerners have been evacuated abroad for treatment.
The worst Ebola outbreak in history has also hit Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal, and has been blamed for more than 2,200 deaths.
The disease is taking a particularly heavy toll on health care workers, whose jobs put them at high risk because Ebola is transmitted through contact with the bodily fluids of people showing symptoms or dead bodies. More than 135 health workers have died in the outbreak so far, exacerbating shortages of doctors and nurses in countries that had too few medical workers to begin with.
Liberia has been especially hard hit by the outbreak, and Information Minister Lewis Brown told a news conference today that the capital region alone needs 1,000 beds to keep up with the accelerating infection rate.
That squares with a World Health Organization estimate from earlier this week. The UN health agency said the county where Monrovia is located has only 240 beds, with 260 more on the way only half of what's needed.
The tremendous fear surrounding the disease and the extreme measures used to contain it like the cordoning off of entire towns for days has led to sharp criticism of Liberia's government and even calls for the president to step down. But Brown urged Liberians to unite, warning that if they didn't, "this virus will consume all of us."
"We are at war with an enemy that we don't see," Konneh said, echoing Brown's warning. "And we have to win the war." But he said Liberia would be dependent on international assistance to do so. The UN has said at least USD 600 million is needed to fight Ebola in West Africa, and already several pledges have come in. The United States has spent USD 100 million so far, with more promised, and Britain has given USD 40 million.