Ministry says 145 volunteered to help fight Ebola

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Ministry says 145 volunteered to help fight Ebola



The Ministry of Health and Welfare yesterday unveiled the results of its recent open recruitment of medical personnel to be sent to Sierra Leone in response to the deadly Ebola outbreak, while detailing the countermeasures it is considering taking if anyone on the team becomes infected with the virus.

A total of 145 health workers volunteered to go to Sierra Leone to fight Ebola, including 35 doctors, 57 nurses, 23 medical technologists and 30 on-site safety managers, the Health Ministry said.

The announcement comes about three weeks after President Park Geun-hye pledged at the Asia-Europe Meeting in Milan to dispatch local medical personnel to countries hit with Ebola to counter the spread of the virus.

Kwon Jun-ok, director general for health policy at the Health Ministry, said that many of the nearly 150 volunteers said they applied for humanitarian reasons, while some said they wanted to gain experience in treating Ebola.

After reviewing the volunteers’ applications tomorrow, a final list will be made based on their levels of expertise. The details of the schedule and the number of medical staff to be dispatched to West Africa will be determined after an advance team of ministerial officials returns from Sierra Leone on Nov. 21, authorities said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will send the advance party of 11 officials on Thursday to research the circumstances of the epidemic before volunteers are sent. The officials are from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of National Defense, Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Korea International Cooperation Agency.

After the team of medical volunteers returns from West Africa, they will be isolated in a “safe area either in Korea or overseas” for 21 days, the maximum incubation period for Ebola. If a member of the team is infected with Ebola, he or she will initially be treated at a care unit in the U.K. and will then be transported to Korea or another country by an American civil aircraft, the Health Ministry said.

According to the World Health Organization, the Ebola virus is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, bodily fluids or tissues of infected animals or people.

In Sierra Leone, 4,759 people had been infected and 1,070 had died as of Nov. 5.


BY LEE SUNG-EUN [selee@joongang.co.kr]

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