HSE denies report of suspected Ebola case at Mater Hospital

Friday 15 August 2014 15.36
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The HSE said the Mater Hospital's isolation unit 'is used for patients with a variety of infectious diseases'
The HSE said the Mater Hospital's isolation unit 'is used for patients with a variety of infectious diseases'
A burial team from the Liberian health department removes the body of a woman suspected of dying of Ebola
A burial team from the Liberian health department removes the body of a woman suspected of dying of Ebola

The Health Service Executive has said there are no confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola in Ireland.

Its comments follow a report on The Journal website that the Mater Hospital in Dublin was preparing to treat a patient suspected of having the deadly virus.

The HSE said: "The National Isolation Unit in the Mater Hospital is used for patients with a variety of infectious diseases.

"Negative pressure is a feature of this specialist facility, as part of normal infection control procedures."

Meanwhile, Médecins Sans Frontières has said the Ebola crisis in west Africa is outstripping the ability of aid organisations to stem the epidemic.

"It is deteriorating faster, and moving faster, than we can respond to," said MSF President Joanne Liu.

Ms Liu said it will take about six months to get the upper hand on the disease and she called on the World Health Organisation to bring in more experts.

The death toll has climbed to 1,069, according to the WHO, with Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea at the centre of the outbreak.

The WHO earlier said the magnitude of the epidemic has been "vastly" underestimated.

The Geneva-based organisation said it was coordinating "a massive scaling up of the international response", in an attempt to tackle the worst epidemic of Ebola since its discovery four decades ago.

It said "extraordinary measures" were needed to contain the outbreak that began in Guinea in February and has since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

"Staff at the outbreak sites see evidence that the numbers of reported cases and deaths vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak," it said.

The United Nation will provide food aid to a million people affected by the virus, according to a World Food Programme statement.

WFP spokeswoman for West Africa Fabienne Pompey said, "at the request of the WHO and the governments concerned, we are putting in place assistance for around one million people" in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. 

The epidemic claimed a fourth victim in Nigeria yesterday, while the United States has ordered the evacuation of diplomats' families from Sierra Leone as analysts warned of a heavy economic toll on the stricken region.

"The outbreak is expected to continue for some time. WHO's operational response plan extends over the next several months," the organisation warned.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan yesterday held discussions with a group of ambassadors from Geneva's United Nations missions.

The meeting was aimed "to identify the most urgent needs within countries and match them with rapid international support," the WHO said.

It said: "These steps align with recognition of the extraordinary measures needed, on a massive scale, to contain the epidemic.

"The outbreak has emerged in settings characterised by extreme poverty, dysfunctional health systems, a severe shortage of doctors, and rampant fear."

Meanwhile, athletes from Ebola-hit countries in west Africa have been barred from competing in some sports in the Youth Olympics that open in China at the weekend, the International Olympic Committee and Chinese organisers have said.

"Athletes from affected areas will not compete in combat sports" and "it was also decided that no athletes from the region would compete in the pool," they said in a statement.

The outbreak has also seen African football's governing body reschedule qualifying matches for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

"CAF will maintain its schedule of matches on the entire continent, except for three countries: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which have recorded a great number of (Ebola) cases," CAF said.

"CAF has decided to ask the three federations to relocate to a neutral country the matches of their teams participating in CAF competitions, for a period up to mid-September 2014."