Several countries and the United Nations on Sunday responded to the recent spread of Ebola in Mali, caused after a sufferer went undetected in a private clinic and spread the disease.
The US added Mali to the list of countries whose travelers face special Ebola screening on arrival, along with Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, the three worst-hit countries in the outbreak. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Homeland Security announced the provision, for roughly 15 daily arrivals out of Mali, in a joint statement.
"The CDC recommended this measure because there have been a number of confirmed cases of Ebola in Mali in recent days, and a large number of individuals may have been exposed to those cases," it said.
There are no direct flights from Mali to the US. Mali shares a porous border with Guinea, where the current Ebola outbreak originated, but had long avoided contamination.
Washington following France, UN
The Foreign Ministry in Paris on Saturday advised citizens to avoid travel to the former French colony, citing the capital Bamako and the western city of Kayes in particular.
Meanwhile, the UN mission in Mali canceled plans to renew a contract with a private clinic providing care to its peacekeepers, after a case of Ebola was missed and spread from there. A UN spokesman said the decision was taken due to "prevailing circumstances" but gave no further details.
An elderly imam from Guinea died at the Pasteur Clinic in Bamako in late October. The sick man was never tested, but his case led to a string of confirmed deaths from Ebola, including a nurse who treated him and a woman who washed his dead body.
The clinic denied any wrongdoing, however, saying that it followed all its usual procedures and that the man did not show signs of the fever.
Band Aid 30 single airs in UK
On British television on Sunday, as part of the popular X Factor talent show on ITV, the new Band Aid single raising money to fight Ebola was aired for the first time before going on sale on Monday. Organizer Bob Geldof presented the song.
"We go to war. We're going to stop this thing. Buy this song," Geldof said. "This isn't about me, it's not about you, it's not about them, it's about us. The reason they did this is that this thing could arrive here on a plane at any time."
Various popular music stars - including One Direction, Bono, Chris Martin and Seal - contributed to the reworked, 30-year-anniversary interpretation of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" originally recorded to raise money for famine victims in Ethiopia.
The Ebola outbreak has claimed more than 5,000 lives since last December, according to the World Health Organization - almost all of them in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
Health minister out in Liberian reshuffle
In Monrovia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Sunday replaced her health minister as part of a broader reshuffle of the Liberian Cabinet. Sirleaf announced on state radio that Walter Gwenigale would be replaced by George Warner, formerly the head of the civil service.
"Dr. Gwenigale, who continues to have my full confidence, will continue to serve as adviser in the Ministry of Health and will continue to work with me on the presidential advisory Ebola committee until his planned retirement in February," Sirleaf said.
Liberia has recorded more than 2,800 confirmed, probable and suspected deaths as a result of the Ebola outbreak, the most of any country. Recently, however, fewer new cases have been recorded, and Sirleaf said on Sunday that her government's target was zero new Ebola cases by December 25.
Sirleaf also named a new public works minister, a new education minister and a new head of the state radio station on Sunday.
msh/av (AP, dpa, Reuters)