29 October 2014
Last updated at 00:00
The Ebola outbreak is primarily affecting Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone
An appeal for the Ebola crisis in West Africa is to be launched by the Disasters Emergency Committee.
It is the first time the DEC – a group of 13 UK aid charities – has sought funds over a disease outbreak, which it says is “a sign of how serious the situation has become.”
Appeals will be made by all the main UK broadcasters on Thursday.
Ebola has killed almost 5,000 people and infected more than 10,000 in West Africa since the start of the year.
In its 50-year history, the DEC has launched appeals for humanitarian disasters caused by floods, famines, earthquakes, typhoons and conflicts, but not previously for a disease outbreak.
Chief executive Saleh Saeed said: “In West Africa today we are seeing a disease create not just a medical crisis but a humanitarian emergency.
“Without urgent action to stop the spread of Ebola and to help those affected by the crisis, parts of West Africa face catastrophe within 60 days.”
Of the 13 DEC charities, 11 are currently supporting work or planning to respond to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, with the majority of work focused on stopping the spread of the disease and providing support to those affected.
The committee says £25 can provide cleaning kits including bleach, soap and a bucket for three families at risk from Ebola.
Basic protective clothing for three volunteers supporting people under quarantine can be provided for £50 and £100 can buy training for a community on how to keep itself safe from Ebola.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says there could be 5,000-10,000 new cases of the deadly virus every week in the worst affected countries by December. Infection rates continue to grow in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Cumulative deaths up to 23 October
Note: Figures are occasionally revised down as suspect or probable cases are found to be unrelated to Ebola
The virus spreads through close contact and health officials say stopping the spread of the disease in the areas hardest hit by the outbreak will prevent Ebola’s spread to other countries.
In August, the United Nations health agency declared an “international public health emergency”, saying that a co-ordinated response was essential to halt the spread of the virus.
By September, WHO director general Margaret Chan said that the “number of patients is moving far faster than the capacity to manage them”.
Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, Thomas Frieden, said in October that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is unlike anything since the emergence of HIV/Aids.
In the United States, two medical workers in Dallas, Texas, who treated a patient – who later died – have also tested positive for Ebola and are receiving treatment.
Spanish nurse Teresa Romero was the first person to contract the virus outside West Africa. She was part of a team of about 30 staff at the Carlos II hospital in Madrid looking after two missionaries who returned from Liberia and Sierra Leone after becoming infected.
Germany, Norway and France and the UK have all treated patients who contracted the virus in West Africa.
Ebola virus disease (EVD)
- Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
- Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva
- Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 70%
- No proven vaccine or cure
- Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host
Meanwhile, Sierra Leone has condemned Australia’s decision to suspend entry visas for people from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa, describing it as “counterproductive” and “discriminatory”.
The move has also been criticised by Amnesty International, while UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said travel restrictions would severely curtail efforts to beat Ebola.
Also, new US federal guidelines say medics returning from treating patients in West Africa should be monitored but not placed in quarantine.
However, some states say they will continue with their quarantine polices.
To make a donation to the DEC Ebola Crisis Appeal visit www.dec.org.uk, call the 24-hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900. You can also donate £5 by texting the word SUPPORT to 70000.