BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's newly appointed Ebola coordinator on Monday said fresh EU funds should be used to finance a vast increase in health staff and hospital beds to treat patients in West Africa.
The EU's "Ebola Czar" Christos Stylianides insisted that the number of overall beds in the region needed to increase "from 1,000 at present to 5,000 as soon as possible" while some 40,000 staffers needed to be mobilized to set up and keep field hospitals working.
Stylianides said that overall so far 244 health workers had died from a pool of 443 that had been infected by the disease as they sought to treat patients. He said that health workers "deserve all our respect and support. Their ranks need to be strengthened and protected."
The numbers he called for were largely in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organization.
Lacking an Ebola vaccine, separating the sick from the healthy is the only way to stop transmission. But that job has been made difficult because there aren't enough beds in treatment centers or knowledgeable staff to treat everyone.
The outbreak has killed nearly 5,000 people, the vast majority of them in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and is still running amok. Stylianides acknowledged the response was too late.
"We must be ready to admit possible mistakes," he said. "All of us underestimated the danger and the extent of the threat," he said.
The EU and its 28 member nations have committed about 1 billion euros ($1.26 billion) to fight the crisis, with about half of the pledges coming over the past week.
In Madrid, 10 people who had contact with a Spanish nursing assistant who survived Ebola have been released from a Madrid hospital, among them the woman's husband.
Associated Press writers Ciaran Giles and Alan Clendenning in Madrid contributed to this report.