One of Sierra Leone's most senior physicians has died from Ebola, the 11th doctor in the country to succumb to the disease, a health official said.

Dr Victor Willoughby, who tested positive for Ebola on Saturday, died on Thursday, Dr Brima Kargbo, the country's chief medical officer said.

"Dr. Victor Willoughby was a mentor to us physicians and a big loss to the medical profession," said Kargbo.
"He has always been available to help junior colleagues."

The 67-year-old died just hours after an experimental drug arrived in the country for him.

The arrival of ZMAb, developed in Canada, had raised hopes for Willoughby's survival. But he died before a dose could be administered, said Kargbo.

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Ebola has taken a particular toll on health workers, killing more than 350, depleting the ranks of doctors and nurses in countries that already had too few to begin with.

Because Ebola is spread by bodily fluids, it is only transmitted through close contact. It is often called the "caregivers' disease" because those infected are typically family members caring for the sick or health workers treating them.

Ebola has infected more than 18,600 people, the vast majority in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. Of those, more than 6,900 have died.

The disease is now spreading fastest in Sierra Leone, but the World Health Organisation says there are signs the infection rate may be stabilising there.

The infection rate in Liberia has been declining, while it is fluctuating in Guinea.

Source: Agencies