Ebola team honored by Time

Updated: 2014-12-11 19:56

By Wang Xiaodong(chinadaily.com.cn)

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Doctors, nurses and others fighting Ebola through "tireless acts of courage and mercy" have been named Time's 2014 Person of the Year.

"The rest of the world can sleep at night because a group of men and women are willing to stand and fight," Nancy Gibbs, the magazine's editor, wrote.

Runners-up included Ferguson, Missouri, protesters; Russian President Vladimir Putin; Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani and Jack Ma, the China-based founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba.

The number of reported cases of Ebola virus infections increased to 17,145 by the end of November, with 6,070 reported deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Some 6,055 deaths occurred in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and deaths have also been reported in other African countries and the United States.

Li Xin, an expert in infectious diseases at Beijing Ditan Hospital, said medical staff working in Africa fighting the disease are worthy of the title "Person of the Year", as they have played a crucial role in preventing the spread of the disease at personal risk to themselves.

"Due to an extreme lack of protection facilities, hundreds of medical workers in West Africa were infected with Ebola," said Li, who was among the first group of doctors sent to Guinea by the Chinese government in August to help fight the disease.

He said during the early period of the outbreak medical staff in some parts of Guinea had to face resistance from locals as they worked to control the spread of the disease.

"Due to different customs and religious beliefs, some locals did not want bodies of their families to be buried by the international medical staff. And they would kiss the bodies goodbye, which increased chances of infection," he said.

Li said he, together with two other Chinese medical experts, sent 10 reports during their one-month stay in Guinea back to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

"We told the commission the situation and difficulties in fighting the disease, particularly the lack of medical staff and materials," he said. "We are glad the commission sent more materials to the areas considering our reports".

Since the first Ebola outbreak in March the Chinese government has sent more than 600 medical staff and public health experts to West African Ebola-affected areas and provided 750 million yuan ($120 million) in aid.

"The response has been China's longest lasting, most intense campaign in response to a global humanitarian crisis," Lin Songtian, an official for African affairs at the Foreign Ministry, said.

"China will continue to assist West Africa in fighting Ebola until the epidemic is eradicated in the region".

Yang Zhitao, a publicity officer at Zhongyuan Petroleum Engineering, a subsidiary of Sinopec, said the company' branch offices in Ghana have invited both Chinese medial experts and local doctors to provide training for employees, even though there were no confirmed cases of Ebola in Ghana.

"We appreciate these medial staff for helping us guarding against Ebola," he said. "We feel safe because of their presence."

Li also applauded the efforts of these medical staff.

"They come from many countries, such as China, the United States, France, but they work in solidarity," he said. "With their bravery and tireless work they are doing something very meaningful for the human beings, so that a disaster may have been prevented".