Republic of Congo President: Ebola outbreak ‘bigger than all of us’

 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.

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.

State Department officials said they had no plans to change the summit agenda. Presidents from both Liberia and Sierra Leone told the State Department that they were reconsidering whether they would attend the event. The State Department on Thursday issued a travel advisory warning U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the three West African nations.

President Obama addressed Ebola in a press conference Friday.

“I know it’s on people’s minds,” he said, after highlighting the strategic and economic issues he hoped to tackle at the summit.

Some visiting dignitaries, he said, would be screened as they leave their countries and will get additional screening once they arrive in Washington, he said.

“This is something that we take very seriously,” Obama said. “This has been a more aggressive outbreak than we’ve seen in the past.”

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Dan Mullin is an active writer and editor for the Pluto Daily who covered the 2014 Ebola Outbreak. Mullin attended the Wake Forest School of Medicine before leaving to pursue his lifelong science goal of allowing humans to live forever via a computer/brain transfer.