MONROVIA (AA) – A specialized U.S. force that had been dispatched to Liberia to join the fight against the deadly Ebola outbreak wrapped up its mission on Thursday as the country is seeing a sharp decline in new infections.
Speaking at a color casing ceremony Major General Gary J. Volesky, commander of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), said the force’s mission was expected to last from nine to 12 months when it was first deployed in September.
“Our mission was to support the lead federal agency USAID by providing our unique military capabilities to help contain the virus and reduce the spread of Ebola in Liberia,” Volesky told the ceremony.
The U.S. force was also required to “execute our tasks with speed and flexibilities that would not only help build confidence among Liberians that the virus could be defeated, but also help garner the support of the international community to also assist in the fight against this disease.”
Detailing the U.S. contribution to the fight, Volesky said the forces worked with their Liberian counterparts in building and overseeing the construction of Ebola Treatment Units (EUTs).
Additionally, the general told the gathering, the US mission trained over 1,500 healthcare workers, in both the capital Monrovia and in local communities throughout the country, to be able to work in these ETUs.
The force initiated logistical systems to move building materials, medical supplies and water to the areas most in need, regardless of how remote the location was, he said.
“We established four mobile testing labs in Liberia so blood samples of potential Ebola patients could be identified, and those that were effected could begin receiving treatment in a matter of hours – not days, and those that were not infected could be quickly released and reduce their chances of becoming infected,” Volesky added.
Over the course of the last year, Ebola – a contagious disease for which there is no known treatment or cure – has killed nearly 9,604 people, mostly in West Africa, according to a Feb. 25 World Health Organization (WHO) status report.
In Liberia alone, Ebola has claimed at least 4,037 lives.
In response to Liberian requests for aid, U.S. President Barack Obama sent 3,000 army troops to Liberia in September to help authorities there combat the Ebola outbreak.
In recent months, however, the country has seen a sharp decline in new infections.
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