Geneva, Aug 26 (IANS): The WHO Tuesday said the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been unprecedented in many ways, including the high proportion of health care workers who have been infected with the deadly virus.
Till date, more than 240 health care workers, including doctors and nurses, have developed the disease in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, and over 120 have died, Xinhua quoted a World Health Organisation statement as saying.
According to the WHO, the virus has taken the lives of doctors in Sierra Leone and Liberia, depriving these hard-hit countries not only of experienced medical care but also of inspiring national heroes.
The UN health agency noted that shortage of personal protective equipment or its improper use and working beyond the number of hours recommended as safe contributed to the high proportion of infected medical staff.
"In many cases, medical staff are at risk because no protective equipment is available, not even gloves and face masks. Even in dedicated Ebola wards, personal protective equipment is often scarce or not being properly used," it said.
On Monday, Liberia's deputy chief medical doctor Abraham Borbor died of Ebola.
Since the beginning of the international response to the outbreak in March, the WHO has deployed nearly 400 people from across the organisation and from partners in the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network to help respond to the disease in four west African countries.
The toll in Guinea, where the epidemic started, is 406, while in Sierra Leone, 392 have succumbed to the haemorrhagic fever. Nigeria has witnessed five deaths so far.
An outbreak of Ebola began in Guinea in December 2013, leading to an epidemic in west Africa after it spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.