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UN Mission personnel tests positive for Ebola in Liberia

Published: 25 Feb 2015 23:50:23 PST

UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) on Thursday said that a member of its military personnel has tested positive for the Ebola Virus Disease, a UN spokesman told reporters here, adding that the patient is receiving treatment at an Ebola Treatment Unit in Monrovia, the capital of the West African country.

The head of the Mission, Karin Landgren, said on Thursday that "UNMIL had taken immediate steps to prevent further transmission," Stephane Dujarric, the UN spokesman, said at a daily news briefing here.

Liberia is one of the three countries in West Africa that was hardest hit in the Ebola outbreak early this year. The other two countries were Sierra Leone and Guinea.

"In line with established the World Health Organization (WHO) protocols, the Medical team of UNMIL has conducted an immediate and robust contact tracing to ensure that all those who came into contact with the individual while he was symptomatic have been assessed and quarantined," Dujarric said.

"Sixteen contacts have been identified to date," he said. "All areas where the individual is known to have been while symptomatic have now been decontaminated."

"This is the third case of Ebola in the mission - one previous confirmed case and another probable case, which could not be confirmed, both resulted in the deaths of the staff members on 13 October and 25 September, respectively," said the spokesman.

The UN secretary-general's special envoy on Ebola, David Nabarro, was in Bamako, Mali, on Wednesday. He discussed the current situation and the measures being taken during a series of meetings with the Malian president, minister of health and public hygiene, and other government representatives, as well as with the head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) in Mali, Dr. Ibrahima Soce Fall, representatives of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) , WHO, and UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes.

UNMEER, the first-ever UN emergency health mission, is being set up in response to the unprecedented outbreak. The UN Mission will be temporary and will respond to immediate needs related to the fight against Ebola.

"Dr. Nabarro said that there was a large engagement of the whole population on the Ebola response and that the government was working effectively," Dujarric said. He said that a very high level of focus and attention had to be maintained even if there are few cases around and until the last person was under treatment.

Nabarro also said that as long as there is Ebola in any neighboring country, Mali needs to remain on high alert.

"UNMEER has received 400 motorbikes from Germany," Dujarric said. "Each of the 400 motorbikes are equipped with a cooler box and will be used to bring blood samples to laboratories in the most affected areas of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea."

"The handover took place at the UN Humanitarian Response Depot in Accra and the Head of mission, Tony Banbury, thanked the German people for their donation and said it was an excellent example of international cooperation," he added.

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