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EU plans response to contain spread of epidemic

By Agence France-Presse in Luxembourg | China Daily | Updated: 2014-10-21 07:51

Nigeria was declared Ebola-free on Monday as European Union foreign ministers thrashed out measures to help halt the spread of the deadly disease elsewhere.

The World Health Organization said Nigeria was a "spectacular success story that shows to the world that Ebola can be contained". Eight people died from the virus in Africa's most populous country.

But the fight is far from over as the outbreak has claimed more than 4,500 lives, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

In Luxembourg, EU ministers were discussing whether to send a civilian mission to help the three West African countries, as diplomats talked of a "tipping point" in the crisis.

The EU foreign ministers will look closely at current efforts and discuss what more needs to be done, not least in getting more skilled staff on the ground in Africa.

One proposal is to reassure medical workers on the Ebola frontline that they will get the backup and, crucially, Western-level care if they fall sick with a disease for which there is no vaccine nor marketed cure.

Another priority is to ensure that the scattered cases reported so far in the United States and Europe are quickly contained.

"This is a serious and significant problem that we should not underestimate. It's not a problem that will stay in one part of the globe," EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton told reporters on the way into the meeting in Luxembourg.


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