The U.S. Department of State on Thursday ordered the families of its diplomats in Liberia -- one of the worst-hit countries in the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak -- to leave the country, and recommended avoiding unnecessary travel to the region.
The U.S. State Department also said that it will send a team, including 12 disease-prevention specialists and a 13-member Disaster Assistance Response Team from USAID, to help the Liberian government tackle the deadly virus, which has so far killed 932 people, mostly in West Africa. Two Americans, infected while working in Liberia, are being treated at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital, using an experimental drug, ZMapp. The virus has also claimed the life of one person in Saudi Arabia while another is being treated in Spain.
“At the recommendation of the U.S. Embassy in Liberia, the State Department today ordered the departure from Monrovia of all eligible family members (EFMs) not employed by post in the coming days,” the state department said in a statement Thursday, adding: “The Embassy recommended this step out of an abundance of caution, following the determination by the Department’s Medical Office that there is a lack of options for routine health care services at major medical facilities due to the Ebola outbreak.”
On Wednesday, the Liberian government declared a state of emergency for 90 days as Ebola cases are on the rise in the region; Sierra Leone cordoned off entire villages to prevent the spread of the virus; and, Nigeria joined the list of African countries where Ebola cases have been reported.
“The scope and scale of the epidemic, the virulence and deadliness of the virus now exceed the capacity and statutory responsibility of any one government agency or ministry. The Ebola virus disease, the ramifications and consequences thereof, now constitute and unrest affecting the existence, security, and well-being of the Republic amounting to a clear and present danger,” Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Wednesday, in a speech.