UN worker dies of suspected Ebola in Liberia

Monrovia – The United Nations mission in
Liberia announced on Wednesday the first
suspected victim among its employees of the
deadly Ebola epidemic ravaging the
impoverished west African nation.
Karin Landgren, head of UNMIL, told
reporters in the capital Monrovia the worker,
a Liberian man, had died last week of
probable but unconfirmed Ebola infection.
“It is a sad reminder of the ever-present risk,
and sobering for us as a mission and as the
UN family,” she said, giving no further
details on the staffer.
“UNMIL will continue to strengthen the
measures we put in place to protect our
staff, and to remind them to protect
themselves and their families outside
working hours.”
Also read: Ebola: Liberia declares state of
emergency
Liberia, the hardest-hit country in the
outbreak, has seen almost 2,000 deaths,
according to UNMIL, since it announced the
outbreak had spread from Guinea on March
31.
Landgren said the mission had taken steps
since then to educate personnel and help
them protect themselves against the virus,
describing staff safety as her “top priority”.
She described the outbreak as “Liberia’s
gravest threat since the civil war”, referring
to the back-to-back conflicts from
1989-2003 that left at least 250,000 people
dead.
“Prices have risen, economic growth is
expected to be cut by more than half, trade
has reduced, many farmers are not tending
their fields in affected areas, and children
are not in school,” she said.
She reaffirmed UNMIL’s commitment to
Liberia and said the mission would remain
until at least the end of the year, with the
Security Council considering an extension
until October next year.
Landgren said she had travelled widely
across Liberia in recent months and seen
“considerable resilience, determination, and
self-reliance”.
“Even as the number of new cases increases,
some communities have made progress in
changing behaviour and reducing
transmission risks. This is an achievement,”
she added.
Anthony Banbury, the head of the newly-
formed UN Mission on Ebola Emergency
Response, is due in Liberia on Thursday as
part of three-nation introductory visit which
will also take in Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Banbury said a priority for the Ghana-based
mission would be “keeping its staff healthy
and making sure that no one else is at risk
of catching Ebola”, according to New York-
based UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

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