Advance team to head to Ebola-hit Sierra Leone

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Advance team to head to Ebola-hit Sierra Leone



The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday that it is in the process of dispatching an advance party to Sierra Leone to respond to the deadly Ebola outbreak in the African region.

The team will research the circumstances regarding the epidemic in the region in preparation for sending Korean medical personnel to the affected country.

“We have tentatively decided to send an advance party prior to sending medical personnel selected to help curb the spreading Ebola virus,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Thursday. “We will make a final announcement as soon as we finish diplomatic procedures with the government of Sierra Leone.”

Once the plan is finalized, the advance party will stay in Sierra Leone until Nov. 21. As soon as officials return to Korea, the government will determine the details of the schedule and the scale of the medical staff to be dispatched to the West African nations of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, where the Ebola outbreak is severe.

The advance party will consist of 11 officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica).

On Oct. 16, President Park Geun-hye pledged at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Milan to dispatch Korean medical personnel to countries hit by Ebola to counter the spread of the virus.

“Korea has decided to send medical personnel following humanitarian assistance to cope with the spreading Ebola virus,” she said in a speech at the summit.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ebola virus, of which a fatality rate is up to 90 percent, is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, bodily fluids and tissues of infected animals or people. In Sierra Leone, the virus has left 4,759 people infected and 1,070 dead as of Nov. 5.


BY PARK YUNA [ypc3c@joongang.co.kr]

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