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China to continue helping Sierra Leone

Updated: 2014-08-18 15:28

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FREETOWN -- China will provide Sierra Leone with more assistance if necessary to help the West African country fight the Ebola outbreak, Beijing's ambassador said Sunday.

Zhao Yanbo made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Xinhua, as a new Chinese medical aid unit, comprising an intensive care medicine expert, an epidemiologist and a public health specialist, arrived here Sunday night.

Earlier this month, China sent expert teams and medical supplies to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to help the three West African nations contain the spread of Ebola.

"What China has sent here is not only experts and supplies, but also friendship, support and encouragement," Zhao told Xinhua, adding that the Sierra Leonean government and public have highly appreciated China's assistance.

When China's emergency aid arrived in the country on Aug. 11, Deputy Foreign Minister Ebun Strasser-King of Sierra Leone said the Chinese government demonstrated that "a friend in need is a friend indeed."

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Friday, Sierra Leonean President Ernest Bai Koroma also spoke highly of China's timely assistance at the critical moment.

In the eyes of Zhao, the ambassador, the anti-Ebola aid is a natural outgrowth of the 43-year-old diplomatic relationship between China and Sierra Leone, which boasts a genuine friendship and sound cooperation in international affairs.

In the strenuous battle against Ebola, China will continue to lend Sierra Leone a helping hand if need be, said the Chinese ambassador.

"China will not stay out of the development of Africa, and it is also an international obligation for China to help Africa with their development," Zhao said.

As regards the some 1,300 Chinese who remain in Sierra Leone, Zhao said it was difficult to evacuate the Chinese nationals as many airlines have suspended flights into and out of the country.

However, he added, the embassy has rolled out a series of measures, including sending notifications via phone and social networks, to boost their awareness and popularize preventive measures.

The most recent statistics compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa continues to escalate, with 1,975 cases and 1,069 deaths reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

Deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq said Friday that the WHO reckoned that the numbers of reported cases and deaths "vastly underestimate" the magnitude of the Ebola outbreak.

The WHO, he added, is coordinating a massive scaling-up of the international response.


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