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Ebola a world threat - WHO

Tuesday October 14th, 2014

The Ebola outbreak is threatening the survival of societies and governments in some of the world's poorest countries, the world's most senior health official said yesterday.

The impact of Ebola on Africa is unprecedented, according to Dr Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organisation.

"I have never seen an infectious disease contribute so strongly to potential state failure," she said.

She made her comments in a statement read on her behalf to a regional conference, which she had planned to attend in the Philippines.

She said: "In the simplest terms, this outbreak shows how one of the deadliest pathogens on earth can exploit any weakness in the health infrastructure, be it inadequate numbers of health care staff or the virtual absence of isolation wards and intensive care facilities throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa."

She warned: "When a deadly and dreaded virus hits the destitute and spirals out of control, the whole world is put at risk. Our 21st century societies are interconnected, interdependent, and electronically wired together as never before."

Meanwhile UK health secretary Jeremy Hunt said screening of passengers for Ebola will start at Heathrow Airport, London, today.

Screening will be conducted by officials of Public Health England and, according to some reports, will include taking the temperatures of passengers travelling from affected West African countries.

Infected patients will be treated at the Royal Free Hospital, London. Treatment facilities are also to be developed in Newcastle, Liverpool and Sheffield.

Mr Hunt told the House of Commons: "Playing our part in halting the rise of the disease in West Africa is the single most important way of preventing Ebola affecting people in the UK."

Tags: Africa | Asia | Flu & Viruses | UK News | World Health

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