Africa’s wealthiest man and Nigeria’s frontline industrialist, Aliko Dangote, has promised to assist Liberia as the West African country fights against the spread of the Ebola virus.
Dangote, according to Forbes Magazine, made the commitment during a telephone conversation with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Friday, promising to assist the country with medical personnel and other human and material resources to contain the spread of the disease.
According to a statement issued by Liberia’s’ Executive Mansion, Dangote said his philanthropic organisation, the Dangote Foundation, would work closely with the Liberian Government to determine what assistance can be provided ranging from medical personnel other professional healthcare workers.
President Sirleaf thanked the billionaire for his promised assistance and praised him for reaching out to the government and people of Liberia.
Liberia is among the countries worst hit by Ebola virus, along with Sierra Leone and Guinea.
The country accounts for more than half of all the official Ebola deaths, estimated at more than 2,400.
Overall, the number of dead across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea has exceeded 4,500.
Meanwhile, the United States has announced that all travellers from Ebola outbreak countries in West Africa would be funnelled through one of its five airports with enhanced screening.
Customs and Border Protection within the Department of Homeland Security began enhanced screening – checking the travellers’ temperature and asking about possible exposure to Ebola virus at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport on October 11.
Enhanced screening for travellers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea was expanded October 16 to Washington’s Dulles, Chicago’s O’Hare, New Jersey’s Newark and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airports.
Those airports were supposed to screen 94 per cent of the average 150 people per day arriving from the three countries.
But lawmakers from other states asked for enhanced screening at their airports too.
Some lawmakers have also called for more restrictions, such as suspending visas or simply denying entry at ports for citizens from the three countries.
Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Jonhson, announced that travellers from West Africa must arrive at one of the five airports starting from Wednesday.
“We are working closely with the airlines to implement these restrictions with minimal travel disruption.
“If not already handled by the airlines, the few impacted travelers should contact the airlines for rebooking, as needed,” he said.
John Conyers of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said steering travelers through the five airports is a sensible precaution.
“As agreed upon by experts in both the public health and transportation communities, issuing a blanket travel ban would not only be counterproductive, but it would also irresponsibly impede getting much-needed supplies and relief to the countries that need it most,” Conyers said.
A Liberian national, Thomas Duncan, who became the first person diagnosed with the disease in the US after arriving in Dallas on September 20, had a temperature of 97.3 degrees, but didn’t tell airport officials in Monrovia, Liberia, that he carried a pregnant woman suffering from Ebola virus. He died October 8 and two nurses who treated him have become infected.
Meanwhile, Serum made from the blood of recovered Ebola virus patients could be available within weeks in Liberia, one of the countries worst hit by the virus, says the World Health Organisation (WHO).
According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), speaking in Geneva, Dr. Marie Paule Kieny said work was also advancing quickly to get drugs and vaccine ready by January 2015.