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UK team arrives in Sierra Leone to lead Ebola response

UK sends team of experts to west African nation to combat outbreak deadly virus

Ahram Online from London, Wednesday 24 Sep 2014
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A team of British military and humanitarian staff has arrived in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, to lead international efforts to fight the outbreak of the Ebola virus in west Africa.

The UK has pledged £100 million to help contain and control the outbreak of the deadly virus and has also called on world leaders to respond to the deteriorating health crisis in the west African country.

The mission of more than 40 persons – including engineers and medical experts – will set up a central hub to oversee the "oversee the construction of the UK's medical facility and assist with the UK’s response," the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said.

It will also provide support for 700 Ebola treatment beds across Sierra Leone, increasing the total number of available beds to more than 1,000 in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the UK's emergency committee COBR met to review progress on the UK's commitment to boost public health provisions across the country.

In an official statement, the FCO said that Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond chaired the meeting, held via video conference from New York to London.

UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening called on world leaders at the UN to back the UK and international efforts to respond to the worsening crisis in west Africa.

The UK government has repeatedly warned that the Ebola outbreak in the region has become one the world’s most extreme global emergencies.

London will host an international conference on 2 October to raise even greater awareness of the disease and what is needed to contain it. British ministers will use the meeting to also "encourage ambitious pledges and show our solidarity with the government and people of Sierra Leone and the region."

"The Ebola outbreak has already been a significant feature in my discussions in New York. It is now vital that the international community translates its concern into action," Hammond said after the COBR meeting.

He warned the outbreak has wide-ranging humanitarian and security consequences for the region and the world.

"Defeating this disease will need a global coalition, as well as innovative approaches to reducing the spread of the virus in communities. That is why combating

Ebola through UK and international efforts is one the government’s top priorities," Hammond said in his statement.

The UK International Development Ministry has also warned the outbreak in west Africa is "extremely serious and worsening every day."

"Sierra Leone requires an urgent and dramatic increase in public health teams and specialist treatment centres to halt the spread of the disease," Greening said after joining the COBR meeting.

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