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World Health Organization calls for emergency meeting on Ebola outbreak

August 6, 2014 at 6:28 PM EST
Emory Hospital To Receive American Ebola Patients From Liberia
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now an update on the Ebola outbreak.

The World Health Organization today raised the number of dead and called for discussions on using experimental drugs.

Every day, there are more victims of the Ebola outbreak and more burials. The World Health Organization now says the death toll reached 932 by Monday. Almost all had been in three countries, Guinea, where the outbreak began, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

But the new number includes a man who died in Nigeria after traveling from Liberia. Since Monday, Nigerian health officials report a nurse who treated that patient has died. The airport in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, is now on high alert, screening passengers for body temperature and other symptoms as they arrive.

YAKUBU DATI, General Manager, Corporate Communications of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria: We have a medical team from the Ministry of Health under the port services that inspects their medical history and also have some equipment where they check without having personal contact. And all that is done on arrival even before the immigration.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, officials in Sierra Leone and Liberia have deployed hundreds of soldiers and police to quarantine remote villages and medical centers in Ebola hot spots. The leaders of those two countries missed this week’s Africa Summit in Washington in order to deal with the crisis.

President Obama took note of their struggle today.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The United States and our international partners will continue to do whatever we can to help our African partners respond to this crisis, and to stand with the people of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In their histories, they have overcome great challenges, and they’re drawing on that same spirit of strength and resilience today.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Two Americans who helped treat Ebola patients in Liberia and were themselves infected are now being treated in Atlanta. They have received an experimental drug, ZMApp, that had never been tested on humans. The drug is extremely limited in supply. And today the World Health Organization announced it’s convening a medical panel next week to consider the ethics of making ZMApp more widely available.