URGENT guidelines warning health workers dealing with the deadly Ebola virus to wear at least two pairs of gloves has been issued by the United Nations health agency.
Tougher measures are being brought in to ensure that’ mouths, noses and eyes are better protected from contaminated droplets and fluids.
But the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the choice of equipment was much less important than how it was used.
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Doctor Edward Kelley, director of safety for WHO, said yesterday that the updated guidelines call for the wearing of one of two materials for gowns or overalls and “an absolute recommendation for double-gloving that didn’t exist before”.
Médecins Sans Frontières already recommends that some of its staff in high-risk jobs, such as cleaning Ebola treatment centres or handling the bodies of victims, wear two or even three pairs of gloves.
Meanwhile, two people are suspected of contracting Ebola after coming into contact with a two-year-old girl who died of the disease in Mali last week.
The WHO and US Centres for Disease Control have revealed that the girl travelled from Guinea to Mali with her grandmother, five-year-old sister and uncle. They believe she may have been in contact with 141 people, with 57 yet to be identified. One of the 84 people traced is suspected of having Ebola but has not been tested, the agencies said. Another four suspected cases have been tested with three showing negative results, and one result yet to come in.
Meanwhile, China is sending an elite army unit to Liberia in response to UN calls for a greater global effort to fight the virus.
The US has sent thousands of troops and committed $1 billion to the fight, but China has been criticised for not doing enough.
The People’s Liberation Army unit has experience of fighting a 2002 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. It will build a 100-bed treatment centre in Liberia. The centre will open in a month and China will also send 480 PLA medical staff.
China has so far given 750 million yuan (£74m) to international organisations and 13 African countries to combat Ebola.
“China’s assistance will not stop until the Ebola epidemic is eradicated in West Africa,” said Lin Songtian, head of the Chinese foreign ministry’s department of African affairs.
The White House took a veiled swipe at the contributions of Russia and China earlier this week. Press secretary Josh Earnest told a briefing: “When we have a situation like this, people aren’t wondering what the Chinese are doing. People aren’t picking up the phone and wondering if Vladimir Putin is going to commit Russian resources.
“People want to know what the United States is doing.”
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