New centre treats Ebola patients
The first Ebola patients are receiving treatment at a UK-funded medical facility in Sierra Leone after British troops worked round-the-clock to construct it in just eight weeks.
Up to 80 victims of the deadly virus will eventually be looked after at a time in the centre near the capital Freetown, the first of six created across the country to deal with a severe bed shortage.
It is being operated by Save the Children alongside a 12-bed centre staffed by British Army medics for health care workers and international staff responding to the crisis and a testing laboratory run by UK scientists.
The World Health Organisation estimates that there are currently just 326 treatment beds in Sierra Leone.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: "Patients are being turned away from hospitals, reducing their chance of survival and allowing the disease to spread.
"That is why British Army Engineers together with Sierra Leonean construction workers have been working round the clock for the last eight weeks to get Kerry Town built.
"This treatment facility, the first of six British-built centres, will give patients the care they need to fight Ebola, limiting the spread of this terrible disease.
"I pay tribute to Save the Children and to the heroic British medics, Sierra Leonean health workers and international volunteers whose work in this facility has the potential to save countless lives."
Armed Forces minister Mark Francois said: "We should all be immensely proud of what the Armed Forces have achieved in such a short space of time.
"The UK has been at the forefront of responding to the epidemic and our medics will now continue the great work already carried out."
Save the Children is recruiting more than 200 clinical staff as well as many more support staff to help run the Kerry Town Ebola treatment centre.
Chief executive Justin Forsyth said: "On my recent trip I was moved by the impact on children.
"I met one girl who lost her entire family and then all her possessions when her house was burnt down, leaving her with nothing. She said I am completely alone. We must stand with children like Emma in their hour of need.
"I was inspired by Save the Children staff, both Sierra Leonean and international, on the front line, fighting the spread of Ebola. They are heroes, putting their lives on the line every day.
"But we know we need to redouble our efforts if we are to get ahead of this crisis. We are in a life and death race against time."
The total number of UK-provided beds will reach 700 once the other five facilities are completed - treating 8,000 patients over six months.