Min­istry says 145 vol­un­teered to help fight Ebola

JoongAng Daily - - Front Page - BY LEE SUNG-EUN se­lee@joongang.co.kr

The Min­istry of Health and Wel­fare yes­ter­day un­veiled the re­sults of its re­cent open re­cruit­ment of med­i­cal per­son­nel to be sent to Sierra Leone in re­sponse to the deadly Ebola out­break, while de­tail­ing the coun­ter­mea­sures it is con­sid­er­ing tak­ing if any­one on the team be­comes in­fected with the virus.

A to­tal of 145 health work­ers vol­un­teered to go to Sierra Leone to fight Ebola, in­clud­ing 35 doc­tors, 57 nurses, 23 med­i­cal tech­nol­o­gists and 30 on­site safety man­agers, the Health Min­istry said.

The an­nounce­ment comes about three weeks after Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye pledged at the Asia-Europe Meet­ing in Mi­lan to dis­patch lo­cal med­i­cal per­son­nel to coun­tries hit with Ebola to counter the spread of the virus.

Kwon Jun-ok, di­rec­tor gen­eral for health pol­icy at the Health Min­istry, said that many of the nearly 150 vol­un­teers said they ap­plied for hu­man­i­tar­ian rea­sons, while some said they wanted to gain ex­pe­ri­ence in treat­ing Ebola.

After re­view­ing the vol­un­teers’ ap­pli­ca­tions to­mor­row, a fi­nal list will be made based on their lev­els of ex­per- tise. The de­tails of the sched­ule and the num­ber of med­i­cal staff to be dis­patched to West Africa will be de­ter­mined after an ad­vance team of min­is­te­rial of­fi­cials re­turns from Sierra Leone on Nov. 21, au­thor­i­ties said.

The Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs will send the ad­vance party of 11 of­fi­cials on Thurs­day to re­search the cir­cum­stances of the epi­demic be­fore vol­un­teers are sent. The of­fi­cials are from the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs, Min­istry of Na­tional De­fense, Min­istry of Health and Wel­fare and the Korea In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Agency.

After the team of med­i­cal vol­un­teers re­turns from West Africa, they will be iso­lated in a “safe area ei­ther in Korea or over­seas” for 21 days, the max­i­mum in­cu­ba­tion pe­riod for Ebola. If a mem­ber of the team is in­fected with Ebola, he or she will ini­tially be treated at a care unit in the U.K. and will then be trans­ported to Korea or another coun­try by an Amer­i­can civil air­craft, the Health Min­istry said.

Ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion, the Ebola virus is trans­mit­ted by di­rect con­tact with the blood, bod­ily flu­ids or tis­sues of in­fected an­i­mals or peo­ple.

In Sierra Leone, 4,759 peo­ple had been in­fected and 1,070 had died as of Nov. 5.

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