Leeds & West Yorkshire

Bradford doctor helps volunteers build Ebola hospital

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Media captionProfessor Wright is based in Bradford but has volunteered to go to West Africa

A senior doctor from Bradford has embarked on a project to build a 100-bed hospital in Ebola-hit Sierra Leone.

Professor John Wright, a clinical epidemiologist, has volunteered to help with the work in Moyamba, a city he says is "under siege".

"The most unsettling thing is nobody touches anybody anymore," Professor Wright said of the outbreak.

The current epidemic in West Africa is the largest outbreak since the virus was discovered nearly 40 years ago.

Image caption Professor John Wright has volunteered to help build a hospital in Sierra Leonne

"Everywhere you go there are security checkpoints... [and] security guards. They've got laser thermometers and they point them at the forehead and check your temperature.

"Any sign of a fever you don't go any further", Professor Wright said.

He is in Sierra Leone with the charity Doctors of the World and hopes to have the first 10 beds at the hospital operational in about two weeks. He is keeping a video diary for the BBC during his stay.

'Large medical need'

"We will have to open the treatment centre slowly, so while there is a large medical need and demand is high, there will be very little hospital beds to start with", Professor Wright added.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 13,000 people have been infected during the outbreak and more than 5,000 people have died.

The virus, which is thought to have originated in fruit bats, was first detected in 1976 in an outbreak near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Professor Wright has been working in Bradford since 1996 and is a visiting professor in clinical epidemiology at the Universities of York, Leeds and Bradford.

Image caption A laser thermometer is used to check for signs of fever

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