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News

Missionary medics die as ebola death toll passes 1,000
11 August 2014 13:02 by Fredrick Nzwili, Katherine Backler

A Spanish missionary priest who had been working in Liberia has become the first European to die of the ebola outbreak which has so far claimed 1,013 lives.

Fr Miguel Pajares, of the Hospitaller Order of St John of God, was working at St Joseph’s Catholic Hospital in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, on Tuesday.

The 75-year-old priest was airlifted back to Spain last week but died in hospital in Madrid yesterday.

The hospital where Fr Miguel was working was isolated after the death of its Cameroonian director, Br Patrick Nshamdze, on 2 August. But another member of staff, Congolese nurse Sr Chantal Pascaline of the Immaculate Conception, died in Monrovia on Saturday.Meanwhile in Nigeria, Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja has recommended receiving communion in the hand, rather than on the tongue, as a precaution against the ebola virus that has spread to Nigeria. He has also called for the omission of handshakes as signs of peace at Masses.

“You know some people sweat a lot and since the virus can be spread through sweating, it will be better to stop handshakes,” Fr Moses Jimbili said when announcing the cardinal’s recommendation.

Churches are placing bowls for hand washing at entrances, and ushers are wearing gloves to count the offerings.

The virus has claimed two lives in Nigeria, and President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a national emergency.

On Tuesday the World Health Organisation said the death toll from the outbreak, which has principally affected Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, stood at 1013.

 

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Above: Children in Monrovia are encouraged to wash their hands as part of an Ebola sensitisation programme. Photo: CNS, EPA