Ebola the 'most serious' health emergency in years: World leaders

  • AFP, London/Geneva
  • Updated: Oct 16, 2014 15:47 IST

The Ebola epidemic is "the most serious international public health emergency in recent years", British, US, French, German and Italian leaders agreed in a conference call on Wednesday.

A 75-minute video conference call between British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and US President Barack Obama focused on cooperation to fight the outbreak, a spokesperson for Cameron said.

Read: Second Ebola case in US, health worker tested positive

"Leaders agreed that this was 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 in the region," the British PM's office said in a statement.

"Each leader set out what they are doing to help the countries affected and then discussions focused on how to improve coordination of the international effort."

Cameron proposed that plans to tackle the disease could be decided at a Friday summit in Milan between European and Asian leaders and a European Council meeting next week.

The call comes after reports that a second healthcare worker in Texas in the United States tested positive for Ebola after caring for a Liberian patient who died of the virus in Dallas.


Airport screening expanded in US after Ebola patient dies​

The United Nations also warned Ebola was outpacing efforts to combat the disease and said the world should dramatically expand the fight against the tropical fever, which has killed nearly 4,500 people this year, mainly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

In a unanimously adopted statement, the 15-member body warned that the world's response "has failed to date".

Cameron said that he would welcome any other countries who wanted to contribute to British efforts to fight the disease in Sierra Leone, and would discuss cooperation with Italy.

The discussion identified priorities of improving coordination of international efforts, increasing spending and trained personnel working the region affected, and evacuation procedures for workers infected with the disease.

The leaders also discussed the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and peace efforts in Ukraine.

The leaders said "the international coalition was making progress" in Iraq, but that more should be done to train local forces in Iraq and Syria to fight the group.

On the topic of Ukraine, the leaders agreed that Russia should respect a ceasefire and stop a cross-border flow of weapons and come to an energy supply agreement in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko are to meet in Milan on Friday to try to settle a disagreement over gas supplies and broker an end to months of conflict in east Ukraine.

Ebola death toll close to 4,500: WHO

Almost 4,500 people have died in the Ebola epidemic that broke out in west Africa at the start of the year, according to fresh figures released Wednesday the World Health Organization.

The WHO said that as of October 12, 4,493 people have died from Ebola out of a total of 8,997 registered cases in seven countries.

The last official WHO toll, valid to October 8, put the figures at 4,033 dead from 8,399 cases. The seven countries are split into two groups by WHO. The first includes Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone -- by far the worst-affected nations.

The second includes Nigeria, Senegal, Spain and United States, which have seen a small number of highly isolated cases. Liberia has been hardest-hit, with 4,249 cases and 2,458 deaths, followed by Sierra Leone with 3,252 cases and 1,183 deaths. Guinea, where the epidemic originated in December, has seen 1,472 cases and 843 deaths.

Health workers continue to pay a heavy price as they battle the epidemic, with 236 deaths out of 427 cases across the countries. A total of 96 health workers have died in Liberia, 95 in Sierra Leone, 40 in Guinea, and five in Nigeria. Nigeria's overall toll remained unchanged at eight dead from 20 cases.

WHO has said it will be declared Ebola-free on October 20 if it has no further cases. In the United States there have been two cases, one of them fatal. Spain has one case of infection.

The toll remained unchanged in Senegal with one case. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, hit by a separate strain of Ebola from the one raging in west Africa, the WHO said there have been 71 cases and 43 deaths up to October 7.

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