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Who won't yet detail Ebola response gaffes

By Agencies in London and Washington | China Daily | Updated: 2014-10-20 10:55

'Nearly everyone' failed to notice factors that made fever epidemic the biggest on record

The World Health Organization said on Saturday that it will not explain details contained in an internal document obtained by the media in which the UN health agency says it fumbled early attempts to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

In the draft document, which was not released publicly, the organization blames numerous factors for the now explosive Ebola epidemic, including incompetent staff, bureaucracy and a lack of reliable information.

"WHO will not do interviews or explain details on this document until it is completed," the agency said in a statement on Saturday. "WHO believes in transparency and accountability and will release this review when it is fact-checked."

So far, Ebola has been blamed for 4,546 deaths in West Africa out of at least 9,191 cases. the WHO said there could be 10,000 cases every week by December unless stronger measures are introduced to fight the outbreak.

The WHO said in the draft document that "nearly everyone" involved in the response to Ebola failed to notice factors that turned the outbreak into the biggest on record.

When Doctors Without Borders warned in April that Ebola cases were out of control, a dispute on social media broke out between the charity and a WHO spokesman who insisted the virus was being contained.

According to the internal report, it was only in June that the WHO's director, Dr Margaret Chan, was alerted to the seriousness of the outbreak - and of the organization's botched efforts in West Africa.

Meanwhile, with three cases diagnosed in the United States and more than 100 people being monitored, President Barack Obama said on Saturday that US citizens "can't give in to hysteria or fear" about the spread of the virus.

In his weekly radio address, Obama made plain he does not plan to accede to demands from some US lawmakers for a ban on travelers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the worst-hit countries. More than 4,500 people have died in the three countries since March in the worst Ebola outbreak on record.

"We can't just cut ourselves off from West Africa," Obama said. "Trying to seal off an entire region of the world, if that were even possible, could actually make the situation worse."

Reuters - AP - AFP

(China Daily 10/20/2014 page12)

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