Washington - The US military will send a field hospital to Liberia for medical staff fighting the Ebola virus, the Pentagon said Monday, as part of an expanded effort to stem the epidemic.
The move comes after President Barack Obama promised the American military would offer logistical support to aid countries facing the Ebola outbreak, and amid warnings the number of Ebola cases in Liberia would rise dramatically.
"We are sending a 25-bed field deployable hospital to Monrovia, Liberia," Pentagon spokesperson Colonel Steven Warren told reporters.
"The intent of this piece of equipment is to provide a facility that health care workers in the affected region can use for themselves if they become ill or injured," Warren said.
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The gear was not yet en route but "it is a top priority and we expect it to get there rapidly," he added.
The field hospital was requested by the US Agency for International Development and after setting up the unit, American troops would turn it over to Liberian authorities but would not be working at the facility, according to Warren.
Obama said in an interview aired on Sunday that US military aircraft and equipment were needed to shore up Africa's public health network in the face of the fast-spreading virus.
"We're going to have to get US military assets just to set up, for example, isolation units and equipment there, to provide security for public health workers surging from around the world," Obama said on NBC's Meet the Press.
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The US president called the Ebola outbreak a "national security priority."
The Pentagon said on Monday there were no other operations under way to assist with the Ebola epidemic but officials said senior officers were reviewing possible plans.
The death toll from the Ebola epidemic, which is spreading across West Africa, has surpassed 2 000, out of nearly 4 000 people who have been infected, according to the World Health Organisation.
Liberia already accounts for half of the more than 2 000 deaths from the virus.
The WHO said on Monday that the West African nation would have thousands of new cases in the next three weeks.