TWO aid workers from the United States who became infected with
the Ebola virus while working with the Christian agency Samaritan's
Purse, in Liberia, have been flown home for treatment (News, 1
The condition of the Americans, Dr Kent Brantly and Nancy
Writebol, is said to be improving, although still serious, after
they were treated with an experimental new drug.
The drug, Z-Mapp, had previously been tested only on monkeys. Dr
Brantly is said by doctors treating him in Liberia to have improved
dramatically within an hour of receiving the drug; Mrs Writebol
needed two doses before her condition showed improvement.
Dr Brantly has also received a unit of blood from a 14-year-old
boy whom he successfully treated for Ebola in Liberia; the boy and
his family were said to have wanted to help the doctor.
Dr Brantly was flown to Atlanta in a medical evacuation plane on
Saturday, and is in an isolation unit at Emory University Hospital
in the city. Mrs Writebol was flown back on Tuesday.
The president of Samaritan's Purse, Franklin Graham, said: "We
thank God they are alive, and now have access to the best care in
the world." Dr Brantly's wife, Amber, said that he was in good
The charity is working to evacuate all but its most essential
staff from West Africa to their home countries. Dr Brantly had been
treating Ebola patients, and Mrs Writebol was working as a
Mr Graham said: "Their heroic and sacrificial service . . . is a
shining example of Christ's love in this crisis situation."
This latest outbreak of Ebola, which began in February, has now
killed nearly 900 people. The outbreak is centred on Liberia,
Sierra Leone, and Guinea, and there are three cases in Lagos,
The Primate of Nigeria, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh,
on Tuesday advised Nigerians to be wary of clerics claiming that
Ebola victims could be healed spiritually. Archbishop Okoh
said at a meeting in Abuja of legal officers of
the Church of Nigeria that people infected with the virus
should not waste time but seek medical
He said: "God can cure anything, but that is not to say
people should go to the church to get the cure for Ebola because
Ebola has just arrived. Nobody had encountered it in this area
"So, whatever claims anybody is making should be taken
with a pinch of salt because we've never seen it before. [Ebola] is
something devastating and time is of the essence. If you lose time,
you lose lives."
The World Council of Churches acting general
secretary, Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, wrote this week to the
Liberian Council of Churches expressing "deep and shared
concern" to its member churches in West Africa over reports
concerning "the Ebola crisis and its devastating impact on the
lives of men, women and children living in Liberia, Sierra Leone,
Guinea and Nigeria."
The letter called on churches and their congregations "to
seek out appropriate ways of supporting our affected brothers and
sisters, particularly through our Christian health services in the
affected countries, who are over-stretched and lacking many of the
basic necessities and resources to deal effectively and
compassionately with this crisis."
British Airways announced on Tuesday that it was temporarily
suspending flights to and from Liberia and Sierra Leone because of
The virus spreads through contact with infected blood and bodily
fluids. Frequently fatal, the current outbreak is killing between
50 and 60 per cent of those affected.
Soldiers have been sent out to those areas in Sierra Leone and
Liberia worst affected by the outbreak, allowing only medical
personnel to move in and out.
Christian Aid is working through partner agencies and with
volunteers in Sierra Leone to give advice on how to avoid
contracting the disease.
Christian Aid's senior programme officer for community health
and HIV, Theresa Bagrey, said: "There is a lot of panic in poor and
remote communities. They have been confused by mixed messaging, and
there is a lot of mistrust in the health system, so authorities
don't always believe what the government is telling them. It is
vital, therefore, to speak to communities through their local and
The World Bank has allocated £120 million in assistance to
countries battling the disease. The World Health Organisation was
meeting on Wednesday to decide whether to classify the outbreak as
a global health emergency.