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UN to set up Ebola crisis centre

Ban Ki-moon called on the international community to provide $600 million for supplies in West Africa.

A worker in a Personal Protection Equipment suit (PPE) uses a stick to move garbage inside the high-risk quarantined zone of the John Fitzgerald Kennedy hospital in the Liberian capital Monrovia on 5 September,2014. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG -The United Nations will soon set up an Ebola crisis centre to coordinate the response to the deadly virus and to strive to halt its spread in West African countries within six to nine months, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on Friday.

Ban called on the international community to provide $600 million needed for supplies in West Africa, where Ebola has killed more than 1,900 people since March and is "spreading far faster than the response."

"The goal is to stop Ebola transmission in affected countries within six to nine months, and to prevent the international spread of the virus," Ban said. "This can be done only if the urgent and necessary mobilisation is done both in the affected countries and by the international community."

He urged airlines and shipping companies not to cancel flights and docking in the affected countries.

"Banning flights and shipping services will not keep Ebola from spreading, but it will keep medical teams from reaching people most in need," he told reporters.

At the same time, the European Union promised 140 million euros in assistance on Friday to bolster the overstretched health sectors of four West African nations struggling to halt the worst ever outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

The funding will be used to strengthen health systems, train health workers and pay for mobile testing laboratories in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Guinea where over 1,900 people have died since the outbreak was identified in March.

Over 97 million euros will be spent on budget support to Liberia and Sierra Leone in order to help them deliver public services, including healthcare, and maintain macroeconomic stability, the European Commission said in a statement.

"The situation is going from bad to worse," said Kristalina Georgieva, the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response. "We are helping make a difference on the ground but the needs are outpacing the international community's capacity to react."