August 2014 – AFRICA – The German government has urged nationals to leave three countries in West Africa affected by the Ebola virus. The outbreak has now killed more than 1000 people, including a second prominent physician in Sierra Leone. Following a meeting of a crisis unit working to stem the ongoing Ebola outbreak, Germany on Wednesday updated its travel warnings for the hardest-hit regions. “It was decided that all German nationals who are in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are called upon to leave due to the still-critical situation,” foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schäfer told reporters, adding that German medical personnel needed on the ground were “explicitly exempt.” German embassies and consulates in the three countries would remain open, Schäfer also said. The latest outbreak of Ebola is the worst since the deadly and highly contagious virus was discovered in the 1970s. More than 1,000 people have died from Ebola since the start of the year. There is no known cure for the pathogen, which causes flu-like symptoms and hemorrhagin. The Ebola death toll continues to rise, with authorities in Sierra Leone announcing on Wednesday that a second of its physicians had died from the virus. Dr. Modupeh Cole was a senior physician at Connaught Hospital in Freetown.
“We are all very, very saddened,” the country’s chief medical officer Dr. Brima Kargbo said, adding that Cole was a “powerful presence in the country’s medical team and has been […] instrumental in the fight against the Ebola virus.” Cole’s death follows that of Sierra Leone’s leading anti-Ebola expert, Sheik Humarr Khan, who succumbed to the virus a fortnight ago. In Nigeria on Wednesday officials reported the death of government staff member Jatto Asihu Abdulqudira, the third Nigerian to die from Ebola. The 36-year-old, who was working with ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) in Lagos, had been in contact with Nigeria’s first Ebola victim, Patrick Sawyer. Nigeria currently has 10 confirmed cases, with more than 100 people under surveillance, and has requested supplies of the experimental drug ZMapp to fight the virus. ZMapp has been used to treat two Americans who are still alive and a Spanish priest who has died. Canadian authorities have also pledged to send an experimental Ebola drug to the World Health Organization (WHO), which has approved using experimental drugs against the virus. Fears over the virus’ spread have also led to further travel restrictions, with the Reuters news agency reporting that Guinea-Bissau has closed its border with Guinea. –DW