MONROVIA/ RIYADH. — Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf called on Tuesday for three days of fasting and prayer to ask for divine intervention against her country’s deadliest-ever Ebola outbreak. “I call on all Liberians to observe three days of national fast and prayer to seek God’s face to have mercy on us and forgive our sins and heal our land, Liberia, as we continue the fight against the deadly Ebola virus”, Johnson said in a statement.
More than 300 Liberians have been infected by the tropical disease, which has been raging in West Africa’s forests since the start of the year.
More than half of those who have caught it have died.
The fast and prayer period will last during daylight hours until the weekend, the presidency said.
Religious leaders will lead prayers for “the spiritual, moral and physical restoration of the land including prayers for the elimination of Ebola”, it added.
The period will finish in the evening today, when senior religious figures will hold a three-hour service in Monrovia, which will also be broadcast on national television.
“We are calling on all Liberians to join in this time of true national repentance and prayer against the Ebola virus,” said priest Jervis Witherspoon, who is spiritual advisor to Johnson. “We believe, in accordance to the scripture, that God will hear our prayer, forgive our sins and heal the land.”
The presidency said religious leaders would also pray “against any form of witchcraft activity used to spread Ebola virus” and for health workers struggling to contain it. The tropical virus has claimed almost 900 lives and infected more than 1 600 people in four West African nations in an epidemic aid agencies have warned is out of control.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s first Ebola-infected patient died yesterday in Jeddah despite treatment, Saudi Press Agency said.
The 40-year-old male patient was already in critical condition when admitted to the ICU isolation ward on Monday.
The Health Ministry has been following his case ever since he showed symptoms of haemorrhagic fever after a business trip to Sierra Leone.
The authority has also put all those who had been in direct contact with the patient under medical observation.
The Saudi Health Ministry has coordinated with the World Health Organisation in sending the patient’s samples to a number of international labs in the United States and Germany for Ebola tests.
Ebola, which has killed over 800 people in West African countries, spreads through mucous and other bodily fluids or secretions such as stool, urine, saliva and semen of infected people.
It is believed to be very difficult to control.
Altogether 1 603 infections and 887 deaths have been recorded in the Ebola-hit countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, the World Health Organisation said. — AFP/HR/Xinhua