December 19, 2014
WHO withdraws staff after worker infected with Ebola in Sierra Leone
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it had shut a laboratory in Sierra Leone after a health worker there was infected with Ebola, a move that may hamper efforts to boost the global response to the worst ever outbreak of the disease.
The WHO said it had withdrawn staff from the laboratory testing for Ebola at Kailahun -one of only two in Sierra Leone- after a Senegalese epidemiologist was infected with Ebola.
"It's a temporary measure to take care of the welfare of our remaining workers," WHO spokesperson Christy Feig said, without specifying how long the measure would last. "After our assessment, they will return."
Feig said she could not assess what impact the withdrawal of WHO staff would have on the fight against Ebola in the Kailahun, the area hardest hit by the disease.
One of the deadliest disease known to man, Ebola is transmitted by contact with body fluids and the current outbreak has killed at least 120 healthcare workers.
The Senegalese medic -the first worker deployed by WHO to be infected- will be evacuated from Sierra Leone in the coming days, Feig said. He is currently being treated at a government hospital in the eastern town of Kenema.
At least 1,427 people have died and 2,615 have been infected since the disease was detected deep in the forests of southeastern Guinea in March. A separate outbreak was confirmed in Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday.With its resources stretched by the West African outbreak, medical charity Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) also said on Tuesday it could provide only limited help to tackle the outbreak.