Ebola outbreaks in Africa must be stopped, White House says


White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a news briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House February 16, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The Biden administration on Tuesday said everything possible must be done to stop Ebola outbreaks in the African nations of Guinea and Democratic Republic of Congo before they become large epidemics.

“We cannot afford to take our foot off the gas – even as we battle COVID, we must ensure capacity and financing for health security worldwide,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Congo in central Africa on Sunday confirmed four cases since Sept 7 and Guinea in west Africa had seven confirmed cases and three deaths.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan on Tuesday spoke with the ambassadors of Guinea and Congo as well as Guinea neighbors Sierra Leone and Liberia to convey U.S. willingness to help, according to Psaki.

The World Health Organization, already deep in a fight against the global coronavirus pandemic, is working to learn more about the origins and strains of the Ebola outbreaks.

The disease, which killed more than 11,000 over 2-1/2 years starting in 2013, now poses a regional risk requiring exceptional vigilance, the WHO warned on Monday.

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Susan Heavey; Additional reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Leslie Adler and Cynthia Osterman)

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