Washington: Several dozen nurses at a Washington hospital have demonstrated outside the White House, saying they are woefully ill-prepared to handle an Ebola case.
They were among thousands of health care workers taking part in protests yesterday in the United States and overseas amid fears the Ebola epidemic might spread beyond West Africa.
"Ebola is just one plane ride away," said emergency room nurse Kelly Fields of Providence Hospital in Washington, where unionised nurse staff are negotiating their first collective agreement with management.
In blue scrubs and red union T-shirts, the nurses demanded an ample supply of full-dress protective suits as well as the training to use them.
"It's a major concern for us... It only takes one person to come to our emergency room and from there we're really not sure what to do," said intensive care nurse Aster Goitom.
Two nurses are among the nine confirmed Ebola cases that have been treated in the United States. Both women had helped to care for a Liberian man who died of the virus in a Texas hospital.
In a statement, Providence Hospital, which is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, said it was prepared to identify and treat patients with highly communicable diseases, including Ebola.
National Nurses United, the biggest nurses' union in the United States, said it expected 100,000 nurses in 15 states to join what it called Global Ebola Awareness Day protests.
Similar demonstrations were scheduled to take place yesterday in Australia, Canada, Ireland, the Philippines and Spain, it said in a statement.
The United States has more than 2.7 million registered nurses, according to the Kaiser Foundation, a national health policy think tank.