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France 'on alert’ amid Guinea Ebola outbreak

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-04-03

France has called for extra “vigilance” among domestic medical services following an unprecedented Ebola outbreak in former French colony Guinea.

Social Affairs Minister Marisol Touraine said no cases had been reported in France, but warned that because of the numbers of travelers arriving from the West African country, she had put medical services “on alert” for any suspected cases in France.

"It is not yet necessary to restrict flights from Guinea," she said. “But travellers going to the countries affected, especially Guinea, should take all possible precautions, while doctors here have been alerted to symptoms that could indicate the disease.”

In Guinea itself, foreign mining firms locked down operations this week and pulled out some international staff as the death toll from suspected cases of Ebola there hit 84.

The West African nation's government said four new suspected cases of one of the world's most lethal infectious diseases had been reported in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 134.

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has warned that Guinea is facing an unprecedented epidemic of Ebola that would test the weak health systems across West Africa.

Fatality rate of 90%

Suspected cases of the disease - which has a fatality rate of up to 90 percent - have also been reported in neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone, while Gambia said two people had been quarantined after arriving from southeastern Guinea.

The epicentre of Guinea's two-month old outbreak has been in the southeast, close to its main iron ore reserves. The country is also the world's top exporter of bauxite, the raw material used in aluminium production, and has rich deposits gold.

"Everyone is practising precautionary strict hygiene but there has been no real impact on production so far," a senior executive at a mining company told Reuters on Wednesday, asking not to be named.

The executive said he had been placed on extended leave, while other companies were preventing people from entering or leaving their mines.

Neighbouring Senegal has closed its land borders with Guinea, and countries across the region have taken precautionary measures, including banning the sale and consumption of bats, a regional delicacy but an animal believed to be a vector for the
virus.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-04-03

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