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'More must be done,' before Ebola threat to Europeans grows: Cameron warns

David Cameron strongly warns EU leaders they should do more to help fight Ebola before the deadly virus takes a toll in European Union countries

Ahram Online in Londin, Saturday 18 Oct 2014
David Cameron
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (Photo: AP)

The UK has called on the European Union to step up its response to Ebola, warning the threat to European citizens will grow.

In a formal letter to the other 26 EU leaders and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, Prime Minister David Cameron advised that there should be agreement on an "ambitious package of support" at a Brussels summit next week.

He suggested doubling the EU contribution to help tackle the outbreak of the deadly virus to one billion Euros.

According to 10 Downing Street, the Cameron letter said: "The rapid spread of the disease and recent cases outside the West African region demonstrate the magnitude of the task at hand.”

"The World Health Organisation forecast 20,000 cases in West Africa by November 2014. I believe that much more must be done," it added.

The UK has deployed tens of its military and medical teams to Sierra Leone to lead international efforts to fight Ebola in Western Africa.

About 750 UK troops in Sierra Leone are helping establish treatment units and training facilities.

In addition to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are the worst affected in the West Africa region and the world.

Cameron's letter is being interpreted as a sign of the UK“s frustration that other countries are failing to shoulder their share of the burden of world efforts to deal with the epidemic in West Africa that has killed more than 4,500.

The UK has already committed £125m to its contribution — the second highest sum after the United States.

The British government said the total contribution from the EU is 500 million Euros.

“If we do not significantly step up our collective response now, the loss of life and damage to the political, economic and social fabric of the region will be substantial and the threat posed to our citizens will also grow,” Cameron’s letter warned.

It also proposed that the EU could help further reduce the transmission rate in West Africa.

More money is needed to train at least 2,000 workers to go out to the affected regions, Cameron suggested, appealing also for a "duty of care package" to be established for any that contract Ebola while working at a European-run or funded medical facility.

The UK prime minster added there should be ”better coordination amongst member states to ensure weekly flights from Europe to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia for front line health staff.”

Cameron's letter comes after Jim Yong Kim, the head of the World Bank, warned that the battle against the Ebola outbreak is being lost.

He blamed a lack of international solidarity for the failure to stop its spread.

Jim spoke after the United Nations revealed it had received less than 40 percent of the near $1 billion it had requested to fight the deadly disease.

International concerns over the spread of Ebola were highlighted as a cruise ship carrying a lab technician who worked with samples taken from an infected nurse in Dallas was prevented from docking in Belize and Mexico.

The US, the UK and Canada have already launched screening procedures at airports for passengers from Ebola-hit areas.

As part of European efforts to stop the spread, France will start Saturday screening air passengers for Ebola.

“The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is an issue that requires a substantial global response,” Cameron said.

He added: ”Much more must be done.”

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