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S. Leone Ebola doctor dies as W. Africa awaits new drugs

In this photo taken on Tuesday, Aug 12, 2014, a healthcare worker, right, wears protective gear against the Ebola virus before he enters the Ebola isolation ward at Kenema Government Hospital, in Kenema, the Eastern Province around 300km, (186 miles), from the capital city of Freetown in Sierra Leone. (AP Photo/ Michael Duff)

FREETOWN: A second senior doctor in Sierra Leone was confirmed dead from Ebola Wednesday as West Africa anxiously awaited the arrival of experimental drugs to tackle the deadliest-ever outbreak of the virus.

Sierre Leone’s chief medical officer Brima Kargbo said Modupeh Cole, a senior physician in the capital Freetown, had been “instrumental in the fight against the Ebola virus.”

The virus killed 56 people in two days, bringing the global death toll to 1,069, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday.

Cole’s death came only a fortnight after the country’s only virologist and leading Ebola expert, Umar Khan, succumbed to the tropical disease.

Another of the worst-hit countries, Liberia, is scrambling to save two of its own infected doctors and hopes an experimental serum from the United States will arrive in time.

The presidency said Tuesday it had received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the use of a barely-tested ZMapp treatment that has shown positive early results.

The two infected doctors have given their written consent to try the drug, which will be delivered to the country within 48 hours. A third doctor has already died from the virus.

The WHO declared it was ethical to try largely untested treatments “in the special circumstances of this Ebola outbreak.” The company behind ZMapp said it had sent all its available supplies to the region following an outcry over the fact it had so far only been used on Westerners, but supplies are extremely limited.

Germany Wednesday called on its nationals to leave the three worst-hit countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – although it said it was keeping its embassies open.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon Tuesday announced plans to step up the global response while urging governments to “avoid panic and fear.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 14, 2014, on page 11.

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