It will take about six months to bring under control the Ebola epidemic, the head of Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) said on Friday, saying the outbreak in West Africa felt like "wartime, is moving, advancing."
Joanne Liu, international president of Doctors Without Borders, speaking after a 10-day trip to West Africa, said more experts were needed on the ground and was critical of the World Health Organization (WHO) for declaring Ebola a "public health emergency of international concern" only on Aug 8.
"Over the next six months we should get the upper hand on the epidemic, this is my gut feeling," she said, adding more experts were needed on the ground. "We need people with a hands-on operational mindset," to combat the outbreak."
Liu said she had conveyed those messages to the WHO and "that I think the wake-up call was too late in calling it a public health emergency of international concern."
"I think we have a common understanding on it now," Liu said. "Now we have to find out how that is translated into concrete action in the field ... a statement will save lives only if followed up on the ground."Some athletes banned
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Friday it was prohibiting young athletes from the Ebola-affected region of West Africa from participating in certain events at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
Athletes from West Africa, where authorities are battling an outbreak of the Ebola virus, will not be allowed to compete in combat sports or in the swimming pool, as it is impossible to rule out the risk of potential infection, the IOC and the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee said in a joint statement.
The rules will prevent three athletes from the region from competing in those events, the statement said.
Those from the affected region competing in other sports will undergo regular temperature checks and physical assessments throughout the games, which begin on Saturday, the two committees said.
The death toll from the world's worst outbreak of Ebola stood on Wednesday at 1,069, the majority of them in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the World Health Organisation said.
Embassy families evacuated
The United States said on Thursday it had ordered family members at the U.S. Embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone to depart because of limitations on regular medical care as a result of the Ebola outbreak.
"The Embassy recommended this step out of an abundance of caution, following the determination by the Department’s Medical Office that there is a lack of options for routine health care services at major medical facilities due to the Ebola outbreak," the State Department said in a statement.
President Barack Obama spoke about the Ebola virus outbreak with the presidents of Liberia and Sierra Leone on Thursday, the White House said.