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8 Sep, 2014 17:19

UK sending military, humanitarian personnel to fight Ebola outbreak

UK sending military, humanitarian personnel to fight Ebola outbreak

Britain has announced it will send military and humanitarian experts to Sierra Leone to set up medical treatment centers in areas affected by the Ebola outbreak.

A 62-bed facility will be built and operated by military engineers and medical staff. The medical center will become operational within 8 weeks. The health facility is in addition to the UK’s 25 million pound package of support to contain and control the disease. This includes multilateral support as well as direct funding to aid agencies operating on the ground, the official press release by the UK government said on Monday.

The 62 bed facility will be purpose built and operated by military engineers and medical staff. https://t.co/95ZKDtxjic

— UK in Sierra Leone (@UKinSierraLeone) September 8, 2014

British military personnel will begin to survey and assess the site later this week. Based near the capital Freetown, the facility will treat victims of the disease, including local and international health workers and medical volunteers, according to the press release.

The deadly virus has already killed some 2,100 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria and has also spread to Senegal. The World Health Organization (WHO) believes it will take six to nine months to stop the spread of Ebola.

Sierra Leone to enter 'lockdown' as Ebola death toll tops 2,000

The British government is not the only country pledging military support to the disease-stricken areas.

US President Barack Obama says the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa “could be a serious danger to the United States.” He promised the US military will get involved, helping to set up isolation units and provide security for health works.

Speaking on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’, Obama said there could be implications if Washington and other powers did not send help to the region. Now it seems as though the president has decided it is time to take action to tackle the problem.

“We’re going to have to get US military assets just to set up, for example, isolation units and equipment there, to provide security for public health workers from around the world,” Obama said.

“If we don’t make that effort now, and this spreads not just through Africa, but other parts of the world, there’s the prospect then that the virus mutates. It becomes more easily transmittable,” he said in the interview broadcast on Sunday.

“And then it could be a serious danger to the United States,” he added.

The United Nations has said that it will cost the region $600 million to try and contain the epidemic. The European Union pledged $180 million to the region on Friday.

"The situation is going from bad to worse," said Kristalina Georgieva, the EU commissioner responsible for humanitarian aid. "We are helping make a difference on the ground but the needs are outpacing the international community's capacity to react."