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Africa

Guinea closes borders in bid to halt Ebola spread

© Photo: AFP / Cellou Binani | Members of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) wear protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, Guinea, on July 23, 2014

Video by Nicholas RUSHWORTH

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-08-09

Guinea announced the closure of its borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia on Saturday in a bid to halt the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, which has killed nearly 1,000 people in West Africa since the start of the year.

The decision was taken primarily to avoid infected people crossing into the West African state, authorities said.

“We have provisionally closed the frontier between Guinea and Sierra Leone because of all the news that we have received from there recently,” Health Minister Rémy Lamah told a news conference, noting that Guinea had also closed its border with Liberia.

The decision to close the borders was taken in consultation with the country’s two neighbours, Guinea’s Minister for International Cooperation, Moustapha Koutoub Sano, told the news conference.

The majority of deaths from the Ebola outbreak have occurred in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, while at least two people have died in Nigeria.

Guinea has been the hardest hit, with at least 367 deaths since March. Another 18 people are being treated in isolation in the country with suspected Ebola.

Zambia, meanwhile, announced Saturday it would restrict entry of travellers from countries affected by the Ebola virus and would ban Zambians from travelling to those countries, in one of the strictest moves yet by a southern African country against the virus.

 

“All delegates from any of the countries affected by Ebola virus disease are restricted from entering Zambia until further notice,” the Health Ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

Lagos asks for medical volunteers

The UN World Health Organization said on Friday that Ebola represents an international health emergency and could continue spreading for months.

Nigeria became the third African nation, after Sierra Leone and Liberia, to declare a national emergency on Friday as the region’s healthcare systems struggle to cope with the advance of one of the deadliest diseases known to man.

On Saturday, authorities in Nigeria's megacity Lagos appealed for volunteers to help fight the Ebola outbreak after admitting they lacked medical personnel.

"We have a shortage of personnel. I won't lie about that. And that is why we are asking for volunteers," Lagos state health commissioner, Jide Idris, said on television.

The Lagos state government is offering incentives such as life insurance to entice medical volunteers, Idris said.

Both Nigerian deaths from the Ebola outbreak were recorded in Lagos, home to some 20 million people, while there have been nine confirmed cases of the virus in the city.

In the Nigerian capital Abuja on Friday, President Goodluck Jonathan approved the immediate release of 1.9 billion naira (8.7 million euros) to fund efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

The money will finance additional centres to isolate Ebola patients, screening at borders, tracing those exposed to the virus, and boosting public awareness.

On Friday, a Canadian patient back from Nigeria who showed symptoms of fever and flu, possible signs of Ebola, was put in isolation in a Toronto-area hospital, Canadian health officials said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-08-09

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