Cuban doctor vows to return to fight Ebola

Cuban doctor treated for Ebola says he will return to west Africa as virus shows little sign of abating in Sierra Leone.

    Baez developed symptoms of Ebola in Sierra Leone and was transferred to Switzerland for treatment [Twitter]
    Baez developed symptoms of Ebola in Sierra Leone and was transferred to Switzerland for treatment [Twitter]

    A Cuban doctor who was cured of Ebola after contracting it in Sierra Leone says he will go back to West Africa to continue with relief efforts in containing the deadly virus.

    Felix Baez, 43, told state newspaper Granma on Monday, that he will return to the region in January after ensuring he was fully recovered.

    "My recovery has been good, I'm resting and enjoying the company of my family," he said. 

    Vania Ferrer, Baez's wife, said she supported her husband's decision. "Of course, I know him, and it could be no other way," Ferrer said.

    Baez developed symptoms of the virus in Sierra Leone on November 16 and was transferred to Switzerland for treatment four days later. After being cured, Baez returned to Havana on December 6. 

    "I was always convinced I would overcome this disease and I told my colleagues "don't worry, I'll return,"" Baez said.

    Baez was given ZMab, a medication similar to the experimental ZMapp, as well as Favipiravir, a Japanese medication normally used to fight the flu. 

    In a very small population, an increase in the number of (Ebola) cases raises high level of concerns that we need to take very seriously as people of Liberia and people of Grand Cape Mount in particular

    Tolbert Nyenswah, Liberia's assistant health minister

    Cuba has sent 256 doctors and nurses to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the three countries hardest hit by Ebola. 

    The worst Ebola outbreak on record has torn through some of West Africa's weakest health systems, killing nearly 350 medical personnel, including more than 106 in Sierra Leone, which is still rebuilding from years of war in the 1990s.


    Meanwhile, dozens  of new Ebola cases have erupted in 
    Liberia, near the border with Sierra Leone, Liberian health officials said on Monday, marking a setback amid recent improvements. 

    The flare-up is due to a number of factors, including people going in and out of Liberia and traditional practices such as the washing of bodies, Tolbert Nyenswah, Liberia's assistant health minister, said.

    Forty-nine cases were reported in western Grand Cape Mount County 
    between December 1 and 25, Nyenswah told state radio.

    "In a very small population, an increase in the number of (Ebola) cases 
    raises high level of concerns that we need to take very seriously as people of Liberia and people of Grand Cape Mount in particular,'' he said.

    About 3,400 people have died from Ebola in Liberia over the past year with nearly 8,000 cases total, though health officials say the situation has improved, especially in the capital, Monrovia.

    Sierra Leone, in comparison, has now eclipsed Liberia with more than 9,400 
    Ebola cases, according to the World Health Organization.

    Overall, more than 20,000 Ebola illnesses and nearly 8,000 deaths have been reported this year in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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