Ebola crisis: Guinea begins compensation payments

A health worker in Guinea poses inside inside a tent in the Ebola treatment unit - October 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The current outbreak began in Guinea and was identified as Ebola in March

The head of Guinea's Ebola mission has said the government has started paying compensation to the families of health workers who have died of the virus.

Eight families have already been paid the $10,000 (£6,200) lump sum, Dr Saccoba Keita told the BBC.

The families of 42 victims, including doctors, nurses, drivers and porters, had been identified to receive compensation, he said.

The outbreak began in Guinea and so far has killed more than 900 people there.

According to the latest report from the World Health Organization (WHO), transmission of the virus in Guinea "remains intense".

In total more than 4,800 people have died of Ebola, mainly in Guinea and the neighbouring countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Meanwhile, an international team of scientists has been set up to determine the effectiveness of using the blood of Ebola survivors as a treatment.

Guinea's President Alpha Conde had promised to pay compensation for those who had died "in active service" helping Ebola patients a month ago.

The BBC's Alhassan Sillah in Guinea says those to be compensated also include the families of the eight-member team attacked and killed in September while trying to spread awareness about Ebola in the southern village of Wome.

The wife of one doctor who died of the virus in April told the BBC that while she was grateful for the money, she would rather have her husband back.

"Yes it a good thing," said the woman, whose husband was working at a hospital in Conakry on the coast of Guinea when he contracted Ebola.

"But personally, if I had a choice, I'd rather be with my husband.

"That's a lot of money, but when I think about why I received it, honestly, it's painful."

How not to catch Ebola:

  • Avoid direct contact with sick patients as the virus is spread through contaminated body fluids
  • Wear protective cover for eyes
  • Clothing and clinical waste should be incinerated and any medical equipment that needs to be kept should be decontaminated
  • People who recover from Ebola should abstain from sex or use condoms for three months

Ebola basics

How Ebola attacks

What virus has hit - in maps

Uncertainty over figures

The WHO says 443 health workers have contracted Ebola in this outbreak, of whom 244 have died.

Following the third meeting of the WHO's emergency committee to assess the efforts so far to contain and control the outbreak, the world health body said it continued to be a "public health emergency of international concern".

The situation in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone "remains of great concern", it added.

WHO assistant director general Keiji Fukuda also said he was "reasonably confident" that Ebola had not spread into neighbouring countries despite the porous nature of borders in the region, reports the Reuters news agency.

"It remains a concern... [but] right now I think we are not seeing it," he said.

Ebola virus disease (EVD)

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Media captionHow Ebola survivors’ blood is saving lives
  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% - but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 70%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • There is no proven vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus's natural host

Ebola virus: Busting the myths

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