Britain will send 750 troops to West African state Sierra Leone to help build an Ebola treatment centre, after a meeting of the government’s emergency response committee chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron.
On Wednesday the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it will provide hundreds of troops, an aviation support ship and 3 Merlin helicopters as the UK ramps up its efforts to tackle Ebola.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon laid out the measures at an emergency COBR committee meeting yesterday, chaired by the Prime Minister, to discuss the UK’s response to the Ebola crisis which is being led by the Department for International Development.
Mr Fallon said: “The Ebola outbreak in west Africa is already a global threat to public health and it’s vital that the UK remains at the forefront of responding to the epidemic. Following today’s meeting we are stepping up significantly the UK’s contribution and leadership in work to tackle the outbreak on land, in the air and at sea.
“At the heart of the package is the commitment to provide more than 750 personnel to help with the establishment of Ebola treatment centres and an Ebola training academy. We are deploying troops, helicopters and a ship – army medics and Merlin helicopters supported by RFA Argus – to provide direct support and reassurance.”
The UK’s new pledge for military involvement will include a commitment to provide further personnel to the region who will join the highly-skilled engineers, logisticians and planners that are already on the ground to support the construction of the Kerry Town Ebola treatment unit; support for a World Health Organisation-led Ebola training facility to assist in the training of healthcare workers, logisticians and hygienists who are needed to staff treatment units; this support includes the provision of over 200 military staff to run the site; three Royal Navy Merlin helicopters and aircrew and engineers to facilitate the rapid movement of key personnel to areas where they are required; and an aviation support ship that will operate as a forward base for UK helicopters.
Using British expertise and local building contractors, the UK has committed to support 700 new beds in Ebola treatment facilities.
This new package will further support the country’s stretched public health services in containing the disease by helping up to nearly 8,800 patients over a 6-month period, the MoD said.
Military personnel will deploy to Sierra Leone next week where they will join military engineers and planners who have been in country for almost a month, overseeing the construction of the medical facilities.