Republic of Congo President Calls Ebola Outbreak ‘Bigger Than All of Us’

(Photo: Jim Watson, AFP/Getty Images)
(Photo: Jim Watson, AFP/Getty Images)

Even before Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso boarded the plane that would take him to the United States for next week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, he had Ebola on his mind.

He called Alpha Conde, president of Guinea, one of three West African countries wrestling with an intense outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus. He wanted the latest update on the region’s plan with the World Health Organization to halt the spread of the disease, which has also infected people in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

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“The entire international community should lend a hand,” Nguesso said Friday at the National Press Club. “This is bigger than all of us.”

As many as 50 African leaders and hundreds of ministers will attend the Tuesday’s state dinner, Wednesday’s summit and more than 80 side events meant to address security, stability, governance and economic growth, but the specter of a growing Ebola epidemic threatens to push its way to the forefront.

The World Health Organization, meeting Friday in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, said it would help the three countries launch a $100 million response plan that will deploy hundreds of doctors, health professionals, aid workers and epidemiologists to bring the outbreak under control. The WHO has identified 1,323 confirmed and likely infections in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since March. More than 725 people have died.

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Donna Leinwand Leger

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