Visiting US envoy Samantha Power condemns response to Ebola epidemic

US envoy to the United Nations Samantha Power criticised the level of international support for nations hit by Ebola as she began a tour of west Africa on Sunday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
US envoy to the United Nations Samantha Power criticised the level of international support for nations hit by Ebola as she began a tour of west Africa on Sunday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - The US envoy to the United Nations criticised the level of international support for nations hit by Ebola as she began a tour of west Africa on Sunday.

Samantha Power said too many nations were praising the efforts of countries such as the United States and Britain to accelerate aid to the worst-affected countries, but were doing little themselves.

"The international response to Ebola needs to be taken to a wholly different scale than it is right now," Power told NBC News before boarding her plane to Guinea.

She said many countries "are signing on to resolutions and praising the good work that the United States and the United Kingdom and others are doing, but they themselves haven't taken the responsibility yet to send docs, to send beds, to send the reasonable amount of money".

After Guinea, Powers will travel to Sierra Leone and Liberia. Those three nations account for the vast majority of the 4,922 deaths from the virus. She will also travel to Ghana before meeting EU officials in Brussels.

More than 10,000 people have the Ebola virus, according to the latest World Health Organisation figures.

Another west African country, Mali, is scrambling to prevent a wider outbreak after a two-year-old girl died from her infection following a 1,000km bus ride from Guinea. She was Mali's first recorded case of the disease.

An American nurse who was placed in quarantine after caring for Ebola sufferers in Sierra Leone has complained she was made to feel "like a criminal".

Kaci Hickox, who later tested negative, was the first person to be placed under a mandatory 21-day quarantine for medical staff returning to parts of the United States who may have had contact with Ebola patients in west Africa.

The new rules took effect in New York and New Jersey on Friday, the same day Hickox returned.

"This is not a situation I would wish on anyone, and I am scared for those who will follow me," Hickox wrote in The Dallas Morning News.

"I am scared about how health care workers will be treated at airports when they declare that they have been fighting Ebola in west Africa. I am scared that, like me, they will arrive and see a frenzy of disorganisation, fear and, most frightening, quarantine."

US President Barack Obama told Americans on Saturday that they must be "guided by the facts, not fear".

Obama sought to calm a jittery public by hugging Nina Pham, one of the two nurses who became the first to contract Ebola on American soil after treating a patient, but has now been declared free of the disease.

Australian authorities said Sunday a teenage girl was in isolation in hospital and undergoing tests for Ebola after she developed a fever following her arrival from Guinea.

The 18-year-old, who arrived in Australia 11 days ago with eight other family members, had been in home quarantine in Brisbane before she developed a "raised temperature" overnight, Queensland state chief health officer Jeannette Young said.

The WHO has warned the situation in Mali is an "emergency" after a girl died from Ebola following a bus ride from Guinea to Mali with her grandmother during which she was said to have showed contagious symptoms.

But Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita tried to calm fears.

"We are doing everything to prevent panic," he said in an interview with French radio on Saturday.

"Since the start of this epidemic, we in Mali took all measures to be safe, but we can never hermetically seal ourselves from this," he said.

Mauritania meanwhile reinforced controls on its border with Mali, which led to a de facto closing of the border, according to local sources.