Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has appealed to U.S. President Barack Obama for urgent aid in tackling the worst recorded outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, saying that without it her country would lose the fight against the disease.
The outbreak, which was first discovered in March, has now killed more than 2,400 people mostly in Liberia, neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone, as understaffed and poorly resourced West African healthcare systems have been overrun.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the epidemic is spreading exponentially in Liberia, where more than half of the deaths have been recorded. It has said that thousands are at risk of contagion in the coming weeks.
Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has set up several treatment centres in the affected countries but has also repeatedly warned it has reached the limits of its capacity and appealed for foreign governments to intervene.
In a letter dated September 9 seen by Reuters, Johnson Sirleaf appealed to Obama to build and operate at least one Ebola treatment unit in the capital Monrovia, saying that U.S. civilian and military teams had experience in dealing with biological hazards.
With the Liberian government due to open a 100-bed treatment centre and MSF scaling up its Ebola facility in Monrovia to 400 beds, Johnson Sirleaf said there was still a shortfall of 1,000 beds in the capital as well as a need for 10 new centres in the rest of the country.