Danish PM to visit health workers in Sierra Leone

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt arrives ahead of the European Union summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels on December 18, 2014 (AFP Photo/Thierry Charlier) (AFP/File)

Copenhagen (AFP) - Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt begins a visit to Sierra Leone on Monday, making her the first Western leader to travel to the African nation since it was hit by a deadly Ebola outbreak.

The epidemic "can only come under control if we help each other. It is a long and persistent struggle that we cannot forget in our part of the world," she told Danish daily Berlingske.

"It is important that countries like Denmark show support and solidarity with Sierra Leone and other west African countries affected by Ebola," she said.

Thorning-Schmidt will visit a group of 19 Danish healthcare workers who were sent to the northeastern town of Port Loko in December to work at an Ebola treatment centre.

She will also visit a Danish transport ship used to bring UN vehicles into Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

The three countries account for 99 percent of the estimated 8,500 Ebola deaths out of more than 21,000 cases reported since December 2013, according to the latest World Health Organization report.

The UN's Ebola coordinator David Nabarro said Thursday the crisis has "passed the tipping point" and there is now a reasonable chance the deadly outbreak could end quickly.

Liberia reported its lowest weekly number of new cases since early June, while Guinea and Sierra Leone both saw the fewest new cases since August, Nabarro said in his most recent update.