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‘Great momentum’ building for U.S. Ebola operation in Liberia

October 8th, 2014
02:34 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

There is “great momentum” building for the United States Ebola operation in Liberia, the top American diplomatic and military officials told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.

U.S. President Barack Obama has called Ebola a “national security threat” and is deploying up to 4,000 troops to Liberia, though that operation has been slow to get off the ground.

The U.S. is not sending any military doctors to work directly with Ebola patients, but Major General Darryl Williams said there would be some doctors working in the country.

“We are providing from the Human Health Services some doctors who will arrive here very shortly, to man the twenty-five-bed Monrovia Medical Unit.”

“But the Ebola treatment units … we've been asked to build up to seventeen of these Ebola treatment units.”

Military personnel will be “constructing Ebola treatment units, working in these labs, constructing hospitals, bringing logistics, providing the personal protective equipment that's critical to fighting this disease.”

He said that the Monrovia Medical Unit would be completed by Friday.

There have been concerns that the operation may expose soldiers to Ebola, who could then carry the virus back to the United States.

“The Department of Defense is taking a lot of precautions to ensure that soldiers that deploy here have the knowledge, skills and ability.”

“This is a very complex environment. But as you know, covering what the Department of Defense has done for the last twelve or thirteen years, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are used to working in tough environments.”

Ambassador Deborah R. Malac told Amanpour that her “darkest days” came over the summer, when it was unclear whether international aid would arrive.

The two Liberian civil wars left the country “in a very fragile state,” she said.

“The health care system was not nearly as robust as we anticipated, and was very quickly overwhelmed by this outbreak.”

“You couple the fact that you have a large, fifty percent illiteracy rate – you have challenges across the board in getting messaging out to people about what they need to do to stop this, to stop the transmission of this, of this disease.”

“But as things have started to flow in, we're quite confident that we're moving in the right direction. And so we're only moving forward. We're not going to look back.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Ebola • Latest Episode
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