China gives green light to mass produce Ebola test kits as cases in Liberia top 1,000

Ebola Outbreak

Workers unload Ebola-related aid goods from China at the airport in Conakry, Guinea on Aug. 11 2014. Photo: AP/ Youssouf Bah

As the number of Ebola cases continues to climb — the World Health Organization now counts at least 2,615 cases, with 1,427 deaths — countries across the world are increasing their efforts to combat the deadly virus.

In China, a test for the Ebola virus jointly developed by China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences and a Shenzhen biotech company received approval Thursday for mass production.

Moscow sent eight doctors and scientists Friday from the Russian Plague Control Research Institute to help their Guinea colleagues battle the disease. They brought two mobile laboratories to test suspected patients.

And Air France — one of only a handful of airlines that is still running direct flights to the four countries affected by the Ebola outbreak — said it is taking additional precautions to protect its passengers and staff.

Dr. Vincent Feuille, medical officer at Air France, said he believes the risks of contagion are being controlled by the airline. However, several Air France staff and crew members believe these efforts are not sufficient, and some personal have recently refused to work on flights to the affected African countries.

Data: WHO

There is currently no preventive vaccination or proven drug for Ebola. The East African Outbreak of 2014 has hit Liberia the hardest, with 1,082 cases, followed closely by Sierra Leone with 910 cases of Ebola. Guinea, however, has had the highest mortality rate. Just over two-thirds of those that have contracted Ebola there have died from it.

Experts say early diagnosis is important for controlling infection by the deadly virus. With the help of China’s test reagent, doctors will be able to get a quicker diagnosis so that further measures can be taken to stop the disease from spreading to others.

CCTV’s Wu Lei reports.

“Our reagent is able to complete the test process for the Ebola virus within three to four hours of obtaining a sample of a suspicious patient,” said Liu Yan, sales manager of Shenzhen Puruikang Biotechnology Co., Ltd. “We’ve a plan for limited production for the moment, and are able to supply to users soon.”

In what is perhaps an odd twist, the outbreak has revived interest in a 1994 book about the deadly virus: Richard Preston’s “The Hot Zone.” Preston’s million-selling book is No. 7 on The New York Times’ nonfiction list of combined print and e-books sellers that comes out Sunday. Its admirers have included Stephen King, who called the first chapter “one of the most horrifying things” he had ever read.

Article includes reporting from CCTV in China and The Associated Press