Mali has released UN peacekeepers after involuntarily quarantining them in an Ebola clinic. The virus has infected more than 17,000 people since March and killed at least 6,100 of them.
Mali released the peacekeepers from quarantine Saturday. Weeks ago, the Pasteur Clinic, in Mali's capital, Bamako, had admitted the soldiers from the UN's Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) with various injuries connected to their service in the country's restive north. However, officials then locked the soldiers into the clinic with other patients and staff when a nurse died after contracting Ebola from a Muslim cleric who had traveled from Guinea to seek treatment for the virus.
"Having all been placed under observation, the quarantined MINUSMA soldiers showed no symptoms of the disease so they just left the establishment," the mission spokesman said.
Nobody else at the clinic has shown symptoms of Ebola. However, seven people have died of the tropical disease in the West African nation, with the first fatality a 2-year-old girl brought from neighboring Guinea to stay with relatives.
Then, the Islamic cleric died in Bamako, transmitting the virus, directly or indirectly, to at least five people, all of whom have now succumbed. Mali's Health Ministry has announced two new cases: the nurse's 23-year-old fiance and a 27-year-old man who had lost his mother and half-brother to Ebola. According to the World Health Organization, as of December 2, 219 of 227 current contacts linked with the outbreak in Bamako remained under observation.
Although international health organizations recommend that people infected with Ebola refrain from bodily contact with others, quarantines as a strategy have been criticized.
'With no risk'
A Swiss hospital cleared for travel 43-year-old Felix Baez Sarria, who caught Ebola in Sierra Leone while working as part of a contingent of 250 Cuban doctors sent there, Liberia and Guinea - the countries hit hardest by the outbreak. In a statement, Jacques-Andre Romand, chief medical officer of Geneva canton, said the hospital would release Sarria as "the total recovery of the patient, confirmed by thorough laboratory tests, now allows him to leave the country and travel with no risk of contagion."
He had been treated for Ebola in an isolation unit of the hospital by a team of five specialists employing strict safety protocols. His treatment included the experimental drug ZMapp.
Nearly 350 medical personnel have died in the outbreak - more than 100 in Sierra Leone, including at least eight doctors. Sierra Leone has pledged to pay the families of all national medical staff who die battling Ebola $5,000 (4,070 euros) in compensation.
Cuba's contribution to fighting the worst ever outbreak of the virus has brought the Caribbean island praise as other countries and international agencies have been criticized for their slow response. Cuba has pledged to send a total of 700 doctors and nurses to West Africa.
mkg/mg (AFP, Reuters)