MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — The United States Monday opened the first of 17 Ebola treatment units it is building in Liberia.
The new clinic opened in Tubmanburg, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) north of the capital, Monrovia. The number of people with Ebola appears to declining in the capital, Monrovia, but more cases are popping up in other areas of the West African country, according to the World Health Organization.
Liberia has lost more than 2,700 people to the deadly virus, spread by direct contact with bodily fluids.
The U.S. has authorized the Pentagon to deploy up to 4,000 service members to West Africa to build the 100-bed units and bring supplies into the country; the U.S. is also helping to train medical workers and burial teams.
The virus has taken a heavy toll on health care workers, sickening more than 500 in the hardest-hit countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Some 4,500 health workers are still needed, according to WHO. The U.S. has already opened a field hospital dedicated to treating infected health workers; the center that opened Monday is the first of several that will treat ordinary Liberians.
The U.S. intervention in Liberia is “the largest ever U.S. response to a global health crisis,” said USAID Disaster Response Team leader Bill Berger.
In neighboring Senegal, the government on Monday said it will gradually re-open borders with Ebola-affected countries, as recommended by the West African regional body ECOWAS. Senegal, which shares a border with Guinea, had closed land borders and air space in August. Senegalese President Macky Sall said the country will continue to screen passengers from affected countries.
In Sierra Leone, the attorney general on Monday justified the Nov. 4 detention of a local radio journalist, saying he made remarks that could “incite public hatred, disaffection and instability.” The official said journalist David Tam Baryoh “made disparaging and inflammatory statements that in no way would aid the collective efforts we are making as a nation in the fight against” Ebola.