European Union officials back from Ebola-hit countries of West Africa say thousands more physicians, especially epidemiologists, and other health professionals are needed there to halt and eradicate the deadly epidemic.
EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said Tuesday that thousands of paramedics, nurses, medical workers and health care volunteers are needed. He says other urgent needs include mobile laboratories, portable toilets and leaflets showing people how to stem the spread of the virus.
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Andriukaitis and the EU's Ebola coordinator, Christos Stylianides, spoke to journalists after returning to Brussels from the countries most affected by Ebola: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Stylianides says help is required "today, not tomorrow — it's very crucial."
Separately, the World Health Organization said it has launched "two urgent initiatives to stimulate diagnostic innovation and expedite the delivery of better and faster tests to West African countries — compressed into months instead of years."
The first initiative aims to minimize the barriers faced by diagnostic companies to develop and deploy their tests. The second is a rapid review to assess a diagnostic's quality, safety and performance.
India quarantines man
Elsewhere on Tuesday, India quarantined a man who was cured of Ebola in Liberia but continued to show traces of the virus in samples of his semen after arriving in the country, the Indian Health Ministry said.
The ministry said in a statement that the Indian national tested negative for Ebola in tests conforming to World Heath Organization guidelines but was quarantined when he arrived at New Delhi airport as a precautionary measure. Later, tests of his semen detected traces of the virus.
"It is a known fact that during convalescence from Ebola Virus Disease, persons continue to shed virus in bodily fluids for variable periods. However, presence of [the] virus in his semen samples may have the possibility of transmitting the disease through sexual route up to 90 days from time of clinical cure."
The Indian man carried with him documents from Liberia that stated he had been cured. He will be kept in quarantine until the virus is no longer present in his body, and will undergo tests over the next 10 days or so, a senior Health Ministry official said.
"It is not an Ebola case, he is an Ebola-treated patient who is negative in blood but whose body fluid is positive. He has no symptoms," the official said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Peter Piot, a former WHO official who was one of the discoverers of the virus, has in the past expressed concerns
about the disease spreading to India. There are nearly 45,000 Indian nationals living in West Africa.
Many experts say densely populated India is not adequately prepared to handle any spread of the highly infectious hemorrhagic fever among its 1.2 billion people. Government health services are overburdened and many people in rural areas struggle to get access to even basic health services.