U.S. aid groups pull out Ebola volunteers from West Africa, Liberia shuts schools

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The Peace Corps and evangelical Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse are pulling out their volunteers in West Africa after some of them were infected with the deadly Ebola virus.

Peace Corps has 102 volunteers in Guinea, 108 volunteers in Liberia and 130 volunteers in Sierra Leone working in the field of agriculture, education and health. The evacuation will be temporary and they will be returned at a later date, the group said on its website.

Two Peace Corps volunteers are suspected to be infected with the virus and are on quarantine, according to a spokeswoman. They will return to the U.S. after getting medical clearance, she said.

Samaritan’s Purse, which is based in North Carolina, said Wednesday it will pull out non-essential personnel from Liberia while its medical staff will remain on site to treat patients.

The group’s doctor, Kent Brantley is being treated for Ebola infection at ELWA hospital in Liberia, where 129 of 249 people infected with the virus have died.

The group said Brantley’s condition have slightly improved but both remain in critical condition.

Brantley has been treating Ebola patients at the Ebola Consolidated Case Management Center in Monrovia since October.

Another humanitarian group, Serving in Mission (SIM), also recalled its non-essential personnel from Liberia. One of its missionary workers, Nancy Writebol, was also infected with Ebola and is being treated at the ELWA hospital, which SIM manages.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF), however, said its 300 aid workers will remain in the West African countries.

MSF director of operations Bart Janssens said the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is not under control and is worsening. He warned the outbreak could spread to other countries if the situation does not improve.

Meanwhile, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced the closure of all schools in the country and the forced leave of all non-essential government workers for 30 days to stop the spread of the virus. The army will enforce the measures, he said.

Sirleaf also said all public facilities will be disinfected on Friday, a non-working day.

As of July 23, the World Health Organizations (WHO) confirmed more than 800 Ebola cases, with 456 deaths. More than 100 health care workers from various organizations have contracted Ebola in West Africa and at least 50 have died, it said. One of the fatalities was a local staff who infected Brantley and Writebol on July 21 and 22.

Ebola kills up to 90 percent of infected people but some have survived due to early treatment. The virus is spread through contact with bodily fluids of the infected.

The Ebola outbreak started in Guinea in February before spreading to neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia.

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