Overwhelmed west African nations on Thursday called states of emergency as the death toll from a fast-spreading Ebola epidemic neared 1,000 and an elderly Spanish missionary was evacuated for treatment at home.
In Liberia, where the dead lay in the streets, lawmakers gathered to ratify a state of emergency while Sierra Leone sent troops to guard hospitals and clinics handling Ebola cases.
Nigeria held out hope it could receive an experimental US-developed drug to halt the spread of the virus.
Since breaking out earlier this year, the epidemic has claimed 932 lives and infected more than 1,700 people across west Africa, according to the World Health Organisation.
Ebola causes severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding. It is transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids, and people who live with or care for patients are most at risk.
As African nations struggled with the sheer scale of the epidemic, Spain flew home a 75-year-old Roman Catholic priest, Miguel Pajares, who contracted the disease while helping patients at a hospital in the Liberian capital Monrovia.
The missionary was the first patient in the outbreak to be evacuated to Europe for treatment.
A specially equipped military Airbus A310 brought him to Madrid’s Torrejon air base along with a Spanish nun, Juliana Bonoha Bohe, who had worked at the same Liberian hospital but did not test positive for the deadly haemorrhagic fever, the Spanish government said.
Immediately after landing this morning, ambulances took the pair to Madrid’s Carlos III Hospital, which specialises in tropical diseases.
The priest was stable and showing no sign of bleeding while the nun appeared to be well but would be re-tested for Ebola just in case, health officials said.
Two Americans who worked for Christian aid agencies in Liberia and were infected with Ebola while taking care of patients in Monrovia were taken back to the United States for treatment in recent days.
They have shown signs of improvement after being given an experimental drug known as ZMapp, which is hard to produce on a large scale.