12 Oct 2014

Why the Ebola outbreak is ‘worse than any movie’

As a nurse who treated an Ebola patient in the US herself gets the disease, the UN chief in charge of dealing with the outbreak tells Channel 4 News why he said it is worse than any Hollywood movie.

A health worker in Texas has become the second person in the US to be diagnosed with the Ebola virus.

The nurse reported a fever on Friday and tested positive for the disease on Sunday. It is believed she is the first person in the US to test positive for the disease without travelling to west Africa.

She helped care for Thomas Eric Duncan, who was diagnosed with Ebola soon after arriving from Liberia. Duncan later died in an isolation ward on at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, 11 days after being admitted.

Health officials said that other health workers could also have been exposed to the Ebola virus. “If this individual was exposed, which they were, it is possible that other individuals were exposed,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centres for Disease Control and Infection (CDC).

If this individual was exposed, which they were, it is possible that other individuals were exposed. Dr Thomas Frieden, health expert

“We knew a second case could be a reality, and we’ve been preparing for this possibility,” said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the health service.

The worker was wearing full protective gear when in contact with Duncan, said Texas Health Resources chief clinical officer Dan Varga.

Improved condition

Meanwhile in Spain, health authorities said there was hope for a nurse infected with Ebola in Madrid. The levels of the virus in her body were diminishing, though health chiefs stressed that she remained in a serious condition.

On Saturday, the UK underwent a national exercise to ensure the public is protected in the event of an Ebola outbreak. Experts say it is highly likely that someone infected with Ebola will arrive in the UK at some point – but they say NHS staff are well-trained at isolating and containing diseases from abroad.

Watch below: the UN’s Dr David Nabarro tells Channel 4 News why he said the Ebola outbreak is worse than a movie.

Liberia is the country worst affected by the virus with 2,316 confirmed, probable and suspected victims, followed by 930 in Sierra Leone, 778 in Guinea, eight in Nigeria and one in the United States, the World Health Organization said on Friday. Some 4,033 people are known to have died in seven countries from the outbreak, it said.

The United Nations said on Friday that its appeal for $1 billion to respond to the west Africa outbreak was only 25 percent funded and a surge in trained healthcare personnel was also needed to help tackle the crisis.

The president of the World Bank has warned the “future of Africa is at stake” after the World Health Organisation issued a 60-day deadline to get the Ebola epidemic under control.

“Unless we quickly contain and stop the Ebola epidemic nothing less than the future of not only west Africa but perhaps even Africa is at stake,” said Jim Yong Kim at a meeting in Washington.