U.S. hails West Africa Ebola progress

Oct 29, 2014, 3:03 AM EDT
Kenyan medical worker from the Infection Prevention and Control unit wearing full protective equipment show on October 28, 2014, how to handle an infected Ebola patient on a portable negative pressure bed at the Kenyatta national hospital in Nairobi.
AFP/Getty Images

The US has praised Ebola-hit West African nations and foreign donors for their efforts in tackling the outbreak. The BBC writes:

America's UN envoy Samantha Power, on a visit to the region, said Liberia and Sierra Leone had hugely increased the number of safe burials - one of the main ways the virus is transmitted.

Ms Power said international aid was helping to combat the disease, and urged donors to continue to help.

The disease has killed roughly 5,000 people in the region. The US government has continued to stress that the best way to stop the virus from spreading is to tackle it at source, and has rejected calls for restrictions on travel from the region.

Australia, however, has approved a visa ban on the main affected countries, and its government has not sent medical staff to West Africa. At a joint news conference in Monrovia with Ms Power, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said "restriction is not the appropriate response" to a "global crisis".

She warned against stigmatising those suffering from Ebola.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), called for isolation of people at the highest risk for Ebola infection but said most medical workers returning from the three countries at the center of the epidemic would require daily monitoring without isolation.

New York and New Jersey are among a handful of states to impose mandatory quarantines on returning doctors and nurses amid fears of the virus spreading outside of West Africa, where it has killed nearly 5,000 people in the worst outbreak on record.

The Obama administration's new guidelines are not mandatory, and states will have the right to put in place policies that are more strict.

Some state officials, grappling with an unfamiliar public health threat, had called federal restrictions placed on people traveling from Ebola-affected countries insufficient to protect Americans and have imposed tougher measures. With thousands already dead from Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, concerns are high in the United States about stopping its spread.