" --IANS/EFE"
Monrovia, Sep 3 (IANS/EFE) Nurses at a main treatment centre for the Ebola virus disease were on strike Wednesday to demand more pay and better protection against the fatal disease which is spreading through West Africa.

John Togba, a spokesman for the nurses at the John F. Kennedy Hospital in the Liberian capital Monrovia, said the nurses lacked the necessary equipment to protect themselves against the virus which is transmitted by direct contact with bodily fluids from those already infected.

The nurses walked off their jobs Tuesday.

Ebola has killed at least 694 people in Liberia, according to estimates by health officials.

Togba cited the protection equipment shortage as the main reason behind the rise in number of infections and deaths among health workers in the country, and as the reason why so many were reluctant to return to work.

The John F. Kennedy Hospital is one of the major centres for treatment and isolation of Ebola in the country, so the strike will greatly affect the fight against the disease which has killed at least 1,552 people in West Africa, according to the latest count by the World Health Organisation.

Since the outbreak of Ebola began in March in Guinea Conakry and then spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal, many health workers, including leading Ebola experts, have died from the disease.

As a government we must do everything in our power to keep health workers safe and save lives, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said, reiterating the commitment of the authorities to improve the conditions for health workers across the country.

Although Liberia has declared a state of emergency and has implemented numerous measures to combat the virus, the epidemic is still spreading, officials said.

--IANS/EFE

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