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For the first time, Hong Kong Red Cross Volunteers work in response to Ebola Virus Outbreak in West Africa

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(Hong Kong˙29 April 2014) The Hong Kong Red Cross (HKRC) today launched an emergency fundraising appeal to the Hong Kong public for supporting the operation in response to the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa. Three experienced volunteer nurses will also be deployed to participate in the operation in Liberia. It is the first time HKRC involves directly in the fight against EVD.

All the donations in response to this emergency appeal will be used to support the EVD emergency and preparedness operations in six West Africa countries (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire). [details of “Donation Methods” as below]

Since the outbreak of the fatal EVD in Guinea in March this year, up to 22 April, it has claimed 142 lives out of 242 confirmed cases in Guinea and its neighbouring Liberia. Cross-border transmission is evidenced with suspected cases identified. The International Red Cross has launched emergency and preparedness operations in the six West African countries, aiming to reach up to 10 million people. The operations cover provision of technical support in proper handling of inflicted or suspected cases, as well as community awareness campaigns to curb the spreading of EVD.

Hong Kong volunteer nurses participate in EVD operations

Three experienced volunteer nurses of HKRC (Ms Carman Kwok Yuk-lai, Mr Walter Leung Wai-yin, Ms Winnie Chow Wai-yee) are to arrive Liberia within this week. They are to participate in the Red Cross epidemic prevention and community education programmes, scheduled for one month. Since it is the first time EVD has surfaced in West Africa, many in the local communities have little knowledge about EVD symptoms and its means of transmission. Our volunteers will help in training local volunteers on identifying and tracking suspected cases or high-risk groups, so as to provide treatment referral and psychosocial support to those in need. They will also work with local Red Cross on education programmes to raise awareness among communities on EVD prevention and personal and environmental hygiene measures.

All our three volunteer nurses are experienced in working with infectious disease control, including SARS, in the public sector. They have been actively participating in humanitarian work, including emergency relief or post-disaster healthcare missions for South Asian Tsunami in 2004, cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe in 2007, Sichuan earthquake in 2008, Pakistan flood relief in 2010, Typhoon Haiyan operation in the Philippines in 2013.

Appeal for public support for timely launch of operations

Ms Carman Kwok has served in intensive care unit during SARS outbreak in 2003, and has also joined the emergency medical relief mission in Kenya after flooding. “Though lethal, EVD can be curbed from spreading as long as the local communities have better understanding about EVD and on the ways of protecting themselves. It is, therefore, crucial to launch timely and wide-scale programmes on epidemic prevention and community education,” she said prior to her departure for Liberia.

Ms Betty Lau, HKRC Head of International and Relief Service, appealed to the public for donations so as to enable efficient launch of the operations. The International Red Cross is appealing for about HK$11 million globally to support the Guinea Red Cross’s emergency operation for more than 3 million people. Another HK$3.4 million has been used for the prevention and education programmes in its neighbouring five countries to reach up to 7 million people.

The International Red Cross has launched emergency and preparedness operations in 6 West African countries (Guinea, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali) in response to the Ebola virus outbreak, including community hygiene education activities, aiming to reach up to 10 million people.