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EU to appoint Ebola czar to battle deadly disease

An Ebola warning sign at Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris
An Ebola warning sign at Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

European Union foreign ministers agreed Monday to appoint an Ebola coordinator to bring together resources and funding to tackle the deadly disease before it becomes a global disaster. The EU promised to pledge 500 million euros of aid to countries affected by the crisis, which it says is the "worst" in Europe.

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"Everybody has to get on board to fight this epidemic," French Foreign minister Laurent Fabius announced during a mini-summit in Luxembourg on Monday.

His declaration comes after a Spanish nurse infected with Ebola was declared free of the virus on Monday. The same day that the World Health Organization announced that Nigeria is now Ebola-free.

"My colleagues all agree that the idea of an Ebola coordinator is a good one," added Fabius, although the name of the person won't be known until the next few days.

The coordinator will be in charge of bringing together resources and funding to tackle the deadly virus, which has already killed more than 4,500 people in West Africa.

New cases in Europe and in the United States in the past few weeks have provoked a more robust response from the international community, initially slow to react.

EU ministers declared on Monday that Ebola was now the "most serious crisis" facing Europe. On Thursday, EU leaders will meet in Brussels and champion for a more coordinated response.

But so far, only France, Britain and Belgium have launched airport screening measures to vet passengers travelling from the worst affected countries. It's unclear whether other EU countries will do the same.

Laurent Fabius once again ruled out suspending flights to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, but instead called for more funding to the affected countries.

The European Union has so far pledged 500 million euros to West African governments to fight the Ebola outbreak. British Prime minister David Cameron wants that number doubled.

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