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Ebola threatening Liberia's existence: minister

09 September 2014, 21:32

United Nations - The Ebola outbreak is threatening Liberia's existence, the country's defense minister told the United Nations Tuesday as the world body looked at further steps to stop the deadly virus.

The hardest-hit country is bracing for more catastrophe with an expected upsurge in cases that have already left upwards of 1,200 dead -- more than half of the 2,288 killed by the disease in West Africa.

"Liberia is facing a serious threat to its national existence," Defense Minister Brownie Samukai told the UN Security Council.

The disease is "now spreading like wild fire, devouring everything in its path," he said.

Liberia's already weak health system is overwhelmed and the country lacks the "infrastructure, logistical capacity, professional expertise and financial resources to effectively address this disease."

US Ambassador Samantha Power said more needs to be done to stop the spread of the virus, but emphasized that international organizations like the UN, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, as well as governments around the globe must collectively "be looking at how we up our game."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is planning a "high-level event" on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly later this month to "highlight the needs and required response" to the Ebola crisis, his spokesman said.

Ban discussed the planned meeting with President Barack Obama during a phone conversation Monday, suggesting that the US leader could be asked to attend.

READ: Ebola infections set to soar in Liberia: WHO

The UN is appealing for $600 million for supplies to West Africa as part of a massive surge of aid, with countries asked to send doctors, nurses, beds, trucks, equipment and other vehicles to the affected countries.

The world body has set a goal of stopping the worst-ever Ebola outbreak within six to nine months.

"I don't think that anyone can say right now that the international response to the Ebola outbreak is sufficient," said Power, whose country holds the presidency of the Security Council this month.

The tropical virus can fell its victims within days, causing severe fever and muscle pain, weakness, vomiting and diarrhea -- in some cases shutting down organs and causing unstoppable bleeding.

No widely available vaccine or treatment exists, but health experts are looking at fast-tracking two potential vaccines and eight treatments including the drug ZMapp.



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