The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced a new package in its efforts to contain the spread of the Ebola epidemic.

Announced after the emergency Cabinet Office briefing room A (Cobra) meeting, the package involves the deployment of more than 750 soldiers to help with the establishment of Kerry Town Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone, and a World Health Organization-led Ebola training facility.

The MoD is also deploying three Royal Navy Merlin helicopters and aircrew and engineers to get key personnel to areas where they are needed.

In addition, the aviation support ship RFA Argus is being sent to operate as a forward base for the helicopters.

UK defence secretary Michael Fallon said: "The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is already a global threat to public health and it’s vital that the UK remains at the forefront of responding to the epidemic.

"Following today’s meeting, we are stepping up significantly the UK’s contribution and leadership in work to tackle the outbreak on land, in the air and at sea."

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The soldiers are scheduled to deploy to Sierra Leone next week, and will join military engineers and planners who are already overseeing the construction of medical facilities in the country.

"The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is already a global threat to public health and it’s vital that the UK remains at the forefront of responding to the epidemic."

The new package is expected to support the country’s stretched public health services, helping up to nearly 8,800 patients over a six-month period.

Since the outbreak, the UK has played a significant role in delivering support, with a commitment to support 700 new beds in Ebola treatment facilities.

In a related development, the US is deploying a special marine expeditionary unit to Liberia.

Pentagon press secretary navy admiral John Kirby said: "I can announce today that 100 personnel from the Special Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa are deploying from Moron, Spain, to Dakar, Senegal, with onward movement to Monrovia."

The unit will provide interim resupply and transportation support until US Army units arrive in the country later this month as part of Operation United Assistance.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ebola outbreak has claimed the lives of more than 3,400 people in West Africa.

Image: The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is considered a global threat to public health. Photo: Crown copyright.

Defence Technology