Angry US envoy hits out at global response to Ebola

Angry US envoy hits out at global response to Ebola

Conakry (AFP) - The US ambassador to the United Nations has criticised the level of international support for nations hit by Ebola as she begins a tour of west African nations at the epicentre of the deadly outbreak.

Samantha Power said before arriving in Guinea on Sunday that too many leaders were praising the efforts of countries like the United States and Britain to accelerate aid to the worst-affected nations, while doing little themselves.

"The international response to Ebola needs to be taken to a wholly different scale than it is right now," Power told NBC News.

She said many countries "are signing on to resolutions and praising the good work that the United States and the United Kingdom and others are doing, but they themselves haven't taken the responsibility yet to send docs, to send beds, to send the reasonable amount of money."

Besides Guinea, Power will travel to Sierra Leone and Liberia -- the three nations that account for the vast majority of the 4,922 deaths from the Ebola epidemic.

More than 10,000 people have contracted the virus in west Africa, according to the latest World Health Organization figures.

Another country in the region, Mali, is scrambling to prevent a wider outbreak after a two-year-old girl died from her Ebola infection following a 1,000-kilometre (600-mile) bus ride from Guinea. She was Mali's first recorded case of the disease.

Ebola can fell its victims within days, causing severe fever and muscle pain, weakness, vomiting and diarrhoea -- in some cases shutting down organs and causing unstoppable bleeding.

The tropical virus is spread though close contact with the sweat, vomit, blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person. No widely-available medicine or vaccine exists.

- 'Feel like a criminal' -

In the United States, an American nurse who was placed in quarantine after caring for Ebola sufferers in Sierra Leone has complained she was made to feel "like a criminal" upon arrival in New Jersey.

Kaci Hickox, who later tested negative, was the first person to be placed under a mandatory 21-day quarantine for medical staff returning to parts of the US who may have had contact with Ebola patients in west Africa.

The new rules took effect in the states of New York, New Jersey and Illinois on Friday, the same day Hickox returned.

"This is not a situation I would wish on anyone," Hickox wrote in The Dallas Morning News.

"I am scared about how healthcare workers will be treated at airports when they declare that they have been fighting Ebola in west Africa. I am scared that, like me, they will arrive and see a frenzy of disorganisation, fear and, most frightening, quarantine."

She said she was being kept outside the main hospital building, with only a hospital bed, a non-flush chemical toilet, and no shower.

"To put me in prison is just inhumane," she told CNN on Sunday.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio attempted to quell the firestorm over Hickox's outspoken remarks, saying "this hero was treated with disrespect, was treated with a sense that she had done something wrong, when she hadn't."

Late Sunday New York state eased its rules for how those arriving from Ebola-stricken west Africa must be treated, under pressure from the White House, where officials believe these rules could deter health workers from going to fight the epidemic.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said there would no longer be a blanket quarantine procedure from all people entering the state from affected countries in west Africa.

Instead, if someone arrives from an affected area with no symptoms, and without having had direct contact with people infected with the virus, no home confinement will be required. Health officials will monitor these travellers twice daily until the 21-day incubation period has expired.

- 'Emergency' in Mali -

President Barack Obama told Americans on Saturday they must be "guided by the facts, not fear" after a 33-year-old US doctor returning from Africa became the first Ebola case in New York City.

Meanwhile, Australian authorities said early on Monday that a teenager who was in isolation in hospital had tested negative for Ebola after she developed a fever following her arrival from Guinea.

The 18-year-old, who arrived in Australia 12 days ago with eight other family members, had been in home quarantine in Brisbane before she developed a raised temperature.

In Mali, the WHO warned of an "emergency" situation after a girl died from Ebola following a bus ride from Guinea with her grandmother.

But an advisor to the Malian health ministry told AFP the 43 people placed under medical observation in Kayes in western Mali -- where the girl died on Friday -- show no signs of the illness.

About a dozen other people are also being observed in the capital Bamako, where the girl had spent about three hours visiting relatives on the way to Kayes.

Mauritania meanwhile reinforced controls on its border with Mali, which effectively closed the frontier, according to local sources.