The Fort Worth-trained doctor who was infected with the Ebola virus in Liberia is “recovering in every way” and hoping for a reunion with his family, according to a statement released Friday.
Dr. Kent Brantly remains hospitalized at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. In a statement issued through his current employer, the Christian aid group Samaritan’s Purse, based in North Carolina, he said:
“I thank God for the healthcare team here who is giving me compassionate, world-class care. . . . There are still a few hurdles to clear before I can be discharged, but I hold on to the hope of a sweet reunion with my wife, children and family in the near future.
“Thank you for your prayers for Nancy [Writebol] and me. Please continue to pray for and bring attention to those suffering in the ongoing Ebola crisis in West Africa. Their fight is far from over.”
Before going to work in Africa, Brantly was a resident in family medicine at JPS Hospital in Fort Worth. On Friday, the JPS Foundation announced that it was accepting donations for the Brantly family, which needs to replace “nearly everything they owned.”
“Brantly’s wife, Amber, left Liberia with their two children several days before he became ill. They came to Texas to attend a family member’s wedding, bringing only what they needed for the trip,” according to a news release.
“Brantly was isolated when symptoms from the Ebola virus appeared and now everything in their home is considered contaminated and will be destroyed.”
“We are hoping the community will provide the resources they need,” said J.R. Labbe, vice president for communications and community affairs for JPS Health Network.
“He’s made such a significant personal sacrifice. His JPS family decided this was the right thing to do. This man and his family deserve a little help.”
Food supplies disrupted
The deadly virus has killed more than 1,000 in West Africa and is disrupting the flow of goods, forcing the United Nations to plan food convoys for up to a million people as hunger threatens the largely impoverished area.
Amid roadblocks manned by troops and pervasive fear among the population of the dreaded disease, the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola is increasingly affecting the food supply in three countries.
In Guinea’s capital of Conakry, fruit and vegetables no longer arrive from the country’s breadbasket. In Sierra Leone and Liberia, several markets have been shut down. The price of rice and other staples is soaring in areas under Ebola quarantine.
Hunters of bushmeat, which can carry the Ebola virus, have lost their livelihoods, and farmers in some areas have been cut off from their fields. Price-gouging hurts people who struggle to feed themselves in the best of times, observers say.
While none of the regulations restricts the movement of basic necessities, fear and inconvenience are disrupting supplies. Some 1 million people in isolated areas might need food assistance in the coming months, according to the U.N. World Food Program, which is preparing a regional emergency operation to bring food by convoy to the needy. The three-month operation can be extended.
The World Health Organization warned this week that the outbreak could last for another several months and that its size may be vastly underestimated.
Air service halted
Africa’s air routes are increasingly at risk as the Ebola virus prompts local carriers to avoid the worst-affected areas, and international airlines halt service thousands of miles from the outbreak’s epicenter, signaling a broader threat to the continent’s travel links.
Airlines from Gambia, Togo and Nigeria have halted flights to Ebola-hit states, while Korean Air will end operations to Kenya on Aug. 20 after a World Health Organization official in the country, which has recorded zero Ebola cases, described it as “high risk” because of airline ties to the rest of Africa.
Korea’s decision to exit Nairobi, so far removed from the outbreak, is an overreaction, Isabelle Nuttall, director of the WHO’s department for global capacity, alert and response, said at a press briefing in Geneva.
Among carriers with the greatest West African exposure, Air France and Brussels Airlines – Deutsche Lufthansa’s main link there – said that they’re screening departing customers more carefully, while persisting with flights. Korean Air’s decision to scrap its only sub-Saharan route could herald a wider review of operations.
British Airways and Emirates are so far the only major carriers to cancel routes to those countries where the disease is present. BA, a unit of International Consolidated Airlines Group, is continuing daily flights to Lagos and Abuja, its remaining West African destinations, as well as to Nairobi.
Staff writer Mitch Mitchell contributed to this report, which includes material from The Associated Press and Bloomberg news service.