As the spread of what is largely considered the deadliest virus continues globally, President Obama asked Congress on Wednesday, Nov. 5 for $6.18 billion to go toward containing Ebola and putting an end to the epidemic.
The number of Ebola cases has risen sharply over the past few weeks in Sierra Leone, West Africa. While the outbreak of Ebola in Sierra Leone started in March, 24 percent of Ebola cases have been reported in the past three weeks. The latest report has confirmed 435 new Ebola cases in the past week, according to USA Today.
According to Tim Shenk, the spokesperson for Doctors Without Borders, Ebola has spread to every district in Sierra Leone. Shenk said the five districts that have been affected the worst by Ebola have been put under quarantine.
The government’s handling of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone is said to have been incredibly disorganized and mismanaged, with a shortage of treatment centers, ambulances, labs and the absence of an effective surveillance system to detect new cases of the disease. According to USA Today, up to 85 percent of calls to the Ebola Hotline in Sierra Leone go ignored.
President Obama announced that 70 uniformed officers of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, a branch of the Department of Health, are traveling to Liberia to treat Ebola patients in a clinic outside of Monrovia, the capital of Liberia.
All of the uniformed officers are volunteers, and will be treating Liberian doctors and nurses who have contracted the virus. The World Health Organization has reported that around 310 health care workers have died from the disease. More than half of these health care workers were working in Liberia when they were diagnosed.
While discussing the U.S. Public Health Service, acting U.S. deputy surgeon general, Rear Admiral Scott Giberson, said, “We’re a fully uniformed service with all the same customs, courtesies, rank.” While the service is not technically part of the U.S. Armed Forces, its members are uniformed, carry military titles and serve as the health care service for the Coast Guard.
Giberson also said that,“Although I do have the general concern that there is high risk, I know that they’re willing to accept that risk in order to succeed in the mission.” No armed military service members will be directly treating Ebola patients.
According to the BBC, a group of African business leaders has set up a $28.5 million emergency fund established to aid countries who have been hit by the outbreak.
Widespread fears of an Ebola outbreak in the United States are slowly being put to rest. The last person in Dallas being monitored for symptoms of the disease was determined to be virus-free on Friday, Nov. 7.
According to The New York Times, the patient was a medical worker who had handled medical waste and was part of a 16-person group of people who were in contact with the nurses who treated Thomas Eric Duncan.
About 4,960 people have died from the disease and 13,268 people have been infected worldwide.
Editor’s Note: Information from the Atlantic, BBC and USA Today was used in this report.