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Scientists seek Ebola cure in the antibodies of survivors

The Institute Of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp says it hopes to start treatment next month.

FILE: Almost 5,000 people have died from the worst Ebola outbreak in history. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG -As scientists around the world scramble to find a cure for Ebola, The Institute Of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium is now assessing whether treatment with antibodies in the blood of Ebola survivors could help infected patients.

This comes as Mali's government confirms a two-year-old has been diagnosed with the virus hours after a New York doctor also tested positive.

The institute says it hopes to start treatment on the first patient by next month.

The institute says the trial will start in Guinea, one of the worst hit countries in West Africa.

Scientists in Antwerp say if proven effective, the straight forward transfer of antibodies from the blood of Ebola survivors into affected patients, could provide the urgently needed treatment option.

Almost 5,000 people have died from the worst outbreak of Ebola in history.

At the same time, South African Airways (SAA) says it has the procedures in place to protect its workers against Ebola.

As the Ebola death toll steadily rises, SAA says it maintains its decision not to freeze flights or change routes.

But as new cases continue to be reported, SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali says the airline will wait for direction from government.

"Government issued a directive where it placed a general ban on specific countries that were the hardest hit countries and we are following on that."

DR WITH EBOLA IN NYC HOSPITAL

A doctor who worked in West Africa with Ebola patients was in an isolation unit in New York City on Friday after testing positive for the virus, becoming the fourth person diagnosed with the disease in the United States and the first in its largest city.

Dr Craig Spencer (33) was quarantined at Bellevue Hospital on Thursday, six days after returning from Guinea, unnerving financial markets amid concern the virus may spread in the city. The three previous cases were in Dallas.

Three people who had close contact with Spencer, a physician who volunteered for the humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders, were quarantined for observation. The doctor's fiancée was among them and was quarantined at the same hospital, and all three were still healthy, officials said.

Meanwhile, Nina Pham, one of two nurses infected with Ebola after treating the first patient diagnosed with the disease in the United States, was declared virus-free.

The news of New York's first Ebola case sent US stock markets lower Thursday and in premarket trading Friday, though Wall Street opened little changed.

The WHO set out plans on Friday for speeding up development and deployment of experimental vaccines, saying hundreds of thousands of doses should be ready for use in West Africa by the middle of next year.

The Republican-led House Oversight and Government Reform Committee were holding a hearing on Friday to examine the Obama administration's Ebola response, featuring testimony from government officials, a nurse's union representative and a humanitarian group working to control the outbreak in Africa.