PM discusses action to tackle Ebola

Published: Thursday 16th October 2014 by The News Editor

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David Cameron will discuss further action to deal with the spread of the Ebola virus with senior officials after world leaders accepted the international community needed “to do much more and faster” in the face of the health crisis.

The Prime Minister will chair the latest meeting of the Government’s Cobra contingency-planning committee amid warnings over fast-escalating infection rates in West Africa and concerns over efforts to prevent it spreading across the globe.

In the US, the White House conceded shortcomings in the treatment of an Ebola victim in Texas after it emerged a second nurse who cared for him was infected – and had taken a commercial flight with 132 other passengers on the day before suffering symptoms.

President Barack Obama cancelled political campaigning to meet his cabinet to discuss the situation and take part in a 75-minute video call with Mr Cameron and the leaders of France, Germany and Italy that was dominated by the response to the threat.

The World Health Organisation has recorded 8,914 cases, including 4,447 deaths.

But WHO assistant director-general Bruce Aylward has warned the number of new cases is likely to hit 5,000-10,000 a week by early December, with as many of 70% of those infected dying as a result of the disease.

Downing Street has defended Britain’s “robust” measures to protect the UK against Ebola, including screening procedures at Heathrow Airport which have faced criticism for being inadequately rigorous.

The Prime Minister told MPs the Government “will do everything we can to keep this country safe” from the outbreak, and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond chaired a meeting of Cobra.

Following the leaders’ talks, a Downing Street spokeswoman said they had agreed the world faced “the most serious international public health emergency in recent years” and that the international community “needed to do much more and faster to halt the rise of the disease”.

The most urgent priorities included “increasing the amount of international spending on the issue, increasing the number of trained personnel working in the region to treat those affected and prevent the disease spreading and evacuation procedures for workers affected”.

The spokeswoman added: “The Prime Minister said we would welcome countries partnering with us in Sierra Leone so that we can provide more treatment beds and we will now explore this further with the Italians.”

Mr Cameron called for further discussions when European and Asian leaders gather in Italy tomorrow for a pre-planned summit.

“All agreed that we should share more information on what we’re doing in order to identify any gaps where more work is needed and to ensure we maximise, rather than duplicate, our efforts,” Number 10 said.

The Royal Navy ship RFA Argus departs tomorrow for West Africa as part of the UK’s assistance for affected countries. The Argus, carrying around 225 military personnel, is expected to arrive around the end of the month.

Published: Thursday 16th October 2014 by The News Editor

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