International concerns about the spread of the Ebola epidemic have heightened, with up to $260 million pledged by international funds to help countries struck by the disease.
The World Bank has promised up to $200 million in emergency loans to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the countries worst hit by the outbreak of the deadly virus so far. The current outbreak, which began in February, has claimed 887 lives so far.
The African Development Bank has pledged a further $60 million to help those damaged by the spread of the virus. And small teams from the U.S. military have been sent to both Sierra Leone and Liberia to set up laboratories to help test for the infection.
Dr. Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group President, said in a statement: "I am very worried that many more lives are at risk unless we can stop this Ebola epidemic in its tracks. I have been monitoring its deadly impact around the clock and am deeply saddened at how it has ravaged health workers, families and communities, disrupted normal life, and has led to a breakdown of already weak health systems in the three countries."
There is increasing panic about the spread of Ebola, with scares over people traveling to the U.K. and the U.S. from the affected countries – although there are currently no recorded cases of the virus outside Africa. Two U.S. citizens, who contracted the virus while working as missionaries in West Africa, are being treated back home.
The crisis is likely to be on the agenda at a summit of nearly 50 African leaders in Washington today. The presidents of both Sierra Leone and Liberia have canceled plans to attend, over fears about the spread of the virus in their countries.