China says it plans to send around 1,000 medical workers and experts to West Africa to help in the fight against the deadly Ebola outbreak that has claimed nearly 5,000 lives.

China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission said on Wednesday, it was planning to send “1,000 medical workers and public health experts” to Ebola-afflicted countries.

“In the months to come, more than 1,000 medical workers and public health experts will be sent by China to assist in the battle against Ebola in West African countries,” state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

China, Africa’s biggest trade partner, has come under fierce criticism for not doing enough in the fight against the worst outbreak of Ebola on record.

While Beijing has already sent a total of 252 people to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three hardest-hit countries, Cuba has sent 165 doctors and nurses to help efforts in Sierra Leone and plans to send 296 others soon to Liberia and Guinea.

On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry said it would send an elite unit of the People’s Liberation Army to help Liberia, the country worst-hit by the outbreak that has killed 4,951 people out of 13,567 infected in eight countries.

Doctors and nurses have been the most vulnerable to contracting Ebola, because the virus is spread through bodily fluids. More than 500 health workers have contracted Ebola, and around half have died.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says 4,500 health workers are still needed.


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