Obama expected to announce expansion of Ebola fight


Facing pressure to do more in the fight against Ebola in West Africa, US President Obama, is expected on Tuesday, to announce an expansion of military and medical resources to combat the spread of the deadly virus.

He is expected to go beyond the 25-bed portable hospital that Pentagon officials said they would establish in Liberia and announce the construction of as many as 17 Ebola treatment centers in the region, with about 1 700 treatment beds.

Senior US government officials said Monday night that the Department of Defense would open a joint command operation in Monrovia, Liberia – one of the countries ravaged by the virus, to coordinate the international effort to combat the disease.

The military will also provide engineers to help construct the additional treatment facilities and will send enough people to train up to 500 health care workers a week to deal with the crisis.

Officials said the military expected to send as many as 3 000 people to Africa to take charge of responding to the Ebola outbreak.

“We all recognize that this is such an extraordinary, serious epidemic,” a senior official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of Mr. Obama’s public remarks on Tuesday.

The efforts should turn the tide from a high-transmission epidemic that continues to grow every day, other officials said.

The White House plan would increase the number of doctors and other health care workers being sent to West Africa from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other American agencies, officials said.

The US will also provide 400 000 Ebola home health and treatment kits to Liberia, as well as tens of thousands of kits intended to test whether people have the disease. The Pentagon will provide some logistical equipment for health workers going to West Africa and what administration officials described as “command and control” organizational assistance on how to coordinate the overall relief work. The Army Corps of Engineers is expected to be part of the Defense Department effort.

Administration officials did not say how soon the 17 treatment centers would be built in Liberia; officials there, as well as international aid officials, have said that 1 000 beds are needed in Liberia in the next week alone to contain a disease that has been spreading exponentially.