China on Monday delivered a second batch of emergency humanitarian aid to three African countries as part of its continued efforts to help them combat the latest round of outbreak of Ebola epidemic, which has claimed nearly 1,000 lives in West Africa.
A chartered plane carrying supplies from Shanghai in eastern China arrived in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia successively on Monday.
The supplies, worth 30 million yuan ($4.9 million), include medical protective clothes, disinfectants, thermo-detectors and medicines.
China delivered its first batch of Ebola relief in May, mostly for disease prevention, control and treatment, to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau.
The largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded began in Guinea in December 2013 and spread to Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, where a total of 1,779 cases have been reported, including 961 deaths, according to the latest report released by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Though the Ebola epidemic is currently restricted to West Africa, the WHO has warned that the disease is now a “public health emergency of international concern” and called for a coordinated international response to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
The WHO has so far not recommended a ban on international travel or trade, but said “states should be prepared to detect, investigate and manage Ebola cases.”
The West African nations, lacking medicines and disease prevention knowledge, are in urgent need of material support and expertise as the epidemic has not yet been controlled, said Wang Yu, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC).
Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged that China is willing to support the African countries in containing the spread of Ebola.
In his messages sent on Sunday separately to Guinean President Alpha Conde, Sierra Leone President Ernest Koroma and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Xi expressed sympathy and solicitude for human and economic losses caused by the Ebola outbreak and appreciated the governments’ efforts to fight against the epidemic.
At this difficult time, said Xi, the Chinese government and people will stand together with the governments and peoples of the three nations and are willing to offer anti-epidemic supplies to them.
Calling China and Africa good brothers, friends and partners, Xi said the Chinese government and people will never forget that the African people will always extend timely support and assistance whenever the Chinese people encounter difficulties.
The Chinese leader also called on the international community to take action immediately and provide assistances to the nations affected by the disease, so that that they can overcome the epidemic and restore a normal life as early as possible.
CHINESE EXPERTS ON SITE
A group of Chinese disease control experts arrived at Conakry, capital of Guinea on Monday to assist the prevention and control of the Ebola virus. This is one of the three expert teams dispatched by the Chinese government to the three African nations hardest-hit by the epidemic.
Each medical team is composed of one epidemiologist and two specialists in disinfection and protection from the China CDC and other institutions.
“This assistance is of great significance and is an embodiment of the traditional friendship between China and Guinea,” said Sun Hui, who is leading the Chinese medical team in the country.
“I hope that with China’s help, Guinea can defeat the Ebola epidemic at an early date,” he added.
According to Sun, the Chinese experts will assist Chinese embassies in the three countries to distribute medical supplies, help train local medical workers to properly use those supplies and teach them about preventive measures. They will also help Chinese nationals in those countries strengthen disease prevention and control.
Three Chinese medical teams are already working in the three African nations. The new experts will also train their staff and work with them to help local doctors, said Sun.
It is the first time that China has offered assistance to foreign countries in response to a public health emergency.
HIGH FATALITY, EXPERIMENTAL TREATMENT
The Ebola virus, with a fatality rate of up to 90 percent, spreads through mucous and other body fluid or secretions such as stool, urine, saliva and semen of infected people.
While there is no known cure for the disease, two U.S. aid workers diagnosed with Ebola while treating patients in Liberia are reportedly both feeling stronger after receiving a U.S.-made experimental drug known as ZMapp.
The manufacturer Mapp Biopharmaceutical revealed on Monday that the ZMapp has been sent to a West African country that requested it, but saying that the supply of the drug is now “exhausted”.
The San Diego-based company said in a statement posted on its website that it received the request this weekend for the drug but did not make public the country’s name.
The company said that it has complied with every request for ZMapp that had the necessary legal and regulatory authorization.
“It is the requesters’ decision whether they wish to make public their request, acquisition, or use of the experimental drug,” said the statement.
A Spanish priest, who was flown home from Liberia recently after being confirmed as suffering from Ebola, is also reportedly receiving the experimental treatment.
However, that has raised questions about whether the untested and unapproved drug should be used in the outbreak.