David Miliband, the former British foreign secretary, warned that the Ebola outbreak means that years of social and economic progress in Sierra Leone was at risk, as he visited the country’s capital Freetown. Miliband, who is now the head of the International Rescue Committee which has about 500 staff working in Liberia and Sierra Leone to combat Ebola, told the Guardian that this was a crucial moment and that treatment alone would not stop the death toll. He was in Freetown to thank and support the 330 staff there, he said, and to advocate for the people. “After 10 years of pretty sustained progress, all that progress is now at stake,” he told the Guardian. “One of the things that have become starkly clear to me in my visit is that there’s no grey area here between controlling the disease on the one hand and widespread disaster on the other. We’re at an absolute tipping point where either the disease is contained to the low tens of thousands, or it becomes an epidemic of a very serious kind.” Miliband was speaking as anxiety in the UK mounted over the possibility that there could be cases in the country. Asked if he felt brave for flying into the outbreak, he said: “I don’t think the leader of an NGO can call himself brave for going somewhere when 300 staff of his organization is working here every day. If it’s safe enough for my staff, it’s safe enough for me. “There are no grounds for panic,” he added. “This is a hard disease to catch. It requires the exchange of body fluids. But there’s no reason not to take sensible precautions.” More
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