19 Oct 2014

Obama appeals against Ebola hysteria

12:17 pm on 19 October 2014

United States President Barack Obama has urged Americans to avoid hysteria about the ebola epidemic.

Barack Obama spoke about Ebola in his weekly address and urged for calm.

Barack Obama spoke about Ebola in his weekly address and urged for calm. Photo: AFP

A teacher from Maine was placed on three-weeks paid leave because she had travelled to Texas for a conference held 16 kilometres from the hospital in which the first case of the virus was diagnosed in the US.

A Pulitzer-prize-winning photographer was told not to turn up to speak at a journalism school, because he had gone to the Ebola hotspot Liberia, even though he had been back 21 days and had no symptoms.

Some Mississippi parents pulled their children from school because the principal had recently travelled to Africa.

Mr Obama is resisting calls from lawmakers to impose a travel ban on people from West African countries being ravaged by the disease.

In his weekly address, Mr Obama said travel restrictions could motivate people to try to hide symptoms, and stop aid and personnel being moved.

"We can't just cut ourselves off from West Africa where this disease is raging. Our medical experts tell us the best way to stop this disease is to stop it at its source before it spreads even wider and becomes even more difficult to contain."

The worst-ever outbreak of Ebola has so far killed more than 4500 people out of 9000 cases in West Africa.

Isolated cases have now begun to appear in Europe and the United States.

'Humanitarian disaster of this generation'

British aid agency Oxfam has said Ebola could become the "definitive humanitarian disaster of this generation".

Oxfam works in the two worst-hit countries in West Africa - Liberia and Sierra Leone - and is calling for more troops, funding and medical staff to be sent to help.

The charity appealed for EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg tomorrow to do more, the AAP reported.

Meanwhile, Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma has announced a major shake-up of the body in charge of fighting the Ebola outbreak in the country.

He said his defence minister would head a new national response centre and report directly to him. The previous team was headed by the health minister.

Mr Koroma said people were dying and quick decisions had to be taken, the BBC reported.

The worst-ever Ebola outbreak has killed about 1200 people in Sierra Leone, and more than 4500 across West Africa.

In the worst-affected countries - Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone - 9191 people have been found to have the virus, which kills 70 percent of those infected, according to the latest WHO figures.

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