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Liberia’s nurses go on strike amid Ebola outbreak

Published time: September 02, 2014 04:03
Edited time: September 21, 2014 07:00
Nurses talk near a poster (C) displaying a government message against Ebola, at a maternity hospital in Abidjan (Reuters / Luc Gnago)

Nurses talk near a poster (C) displaying a government message against Ebola, at a maternity hospital in Abidjan (Reuters / Luc Gnago)

In the midst of an Ebola outbreak Liberia’s nurses from the country’s largest hospital went on strike Monday. Calling for higher salaries, they also demanded equipment to protect them from the Ebola virus that has killed hundreds in Liberia.

READ MORE: First Ebola case in Senegal, five more states at risk of outbreak spread

The nurses will not go back to work until they have “personal protective equipment (PPEs)”, the hazmat-style suits that protect against the spread of the disease, AFP quoted a spokesman for the strikers at Monrovia’s John F. Kennedy hospital, John Tugbeh, as saying.

Despite Ebola being a deadly threat – with 694 registered deaths in Liberia alone – local medics have not been adequately protected against the infection, he said.

“From the beginning of the Ebola outbreak we have not had any protective equipment to work with. As result, so many doctors got infected by the virus. We have to stay home until we get the PPEs,” Tugbeh said.

Last week, the head of the Centers for Disease Control in the United States warned that the situation in West Africa remains grim.

“I wish I didn’t have to say this, but it is going get worse before it gets better,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden told the Associated Press this week upon completion of a trip to Liberia.

READ MORE: US officials: Ebola outbreak to worsen

Countries around the world have stepped up preparedness in case the virus crosses their own borders.

Russia’s Federal Biomedical Agency (FMBA) on Tuesday announced it is setting up a special recovery team that has been tasked to help fight the Ebola outbreak, Itar-Tass reported.

The team’s task will be to prevent the spread of Ebola in Russia, in case the virus crosses into its territory. The team consists of 16 people, including “infectious disease specialists, epidemiologists, laboratory technicians and resuscitators,” FMBA said. “Specialists are trained to provide a full cycle of treatment to patients with especially dangerous infections.”

Due to the overall worsening of the situation around the spread of the disease, FMBA will be holding a meeting later on Tuesday that will focus on how to prevent the emergence and spread of particularly dangerous infectious diseases in the country.

READ MORE: Russian scientists to set up lab in Guinea to fight Ebola

Special gear will be demonstrated during the meeting, which protects medical staff from infectious diseases.

Also, FMBA will show off new transportation technology, such as the “insulation box,” which enables doctors to transport infected patient without spreading the disease. "This box can be used for transportation of a healthy person through contaminated area without the risk of infection as well,” FMBA added.

It was announced last week that the virus has now spread to the West African state of Senegal – the region’s fifth country to confirm a case of the deadly Ebola. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that five more states are at risk for spread of the outbreak.

“The following countries share land borders or major transportation connections with the affected countries and are therefore at risk for spread of the Ebola outbreak: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Senegal,” the agency said, adding it will aid the new states with “surveillance, preparedness and response plan.”

Meanwhile, the US is pushing ahead with Ebola vaccine trials on humans as twenty healthy volunteers will enter a 48-week trial for a US-developed vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus this week. The trial has been moved forward due to the current outbreak, but the first results are unlikely before the year end.

READ MORE: ‘All hands on deck’: US pushes ahead with Ebola vaccine trials on humans

So far, the Ebola virus, which is transmitted through contact with infected bodily fluids, has killed more than 1,500 people in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra-Leone and Nigeria since the beginning of 2014.