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Guinea Declares Public Health Emergency Over Ebola


Liberian policemen, right, dressed in riot gear disperse a crowd of people that blocked a main road after the body of someone suspected of dying from the Ebola virus was not removed by health workers in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 14, 2014.

Liberian policemen, right, dressed in riot gear disperse a crowd of people that blocked a main road after the body of someone suspected of dying from the Ebola virus was not removed by health workers in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 14, 2014.

Guinea has declared a public health emergency over the Ebola epidemic and is sending health workers to all affected border points, a government official said.

An estimated 377 people have died in Guinea since the world's worst outbreak of Ebola began in March in remote parts of a border region next to Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Guinea said its outbreak is under control with the number of new cases falling, but that the new measures are needed to prevent further infection from the other countries at the center of the epidemic.

“Trucks full of health materials and carrying health personnel are going to all the border points with Liberia and Sierra Leone,” Aboubacar Sidiki DiakitDe, president of Guinea's Ebola commission, said late Wednesday.

As many as 3,000 people are waiting at 17 border points for a green light to enter the country, he said.

Sierra Leone has declared Ebola a national emergency as has Liberia, which is hoping that two of its doctors diagnosed with Ebola can start treatment on Thursday with some of the limited supply of experimental drug ZMapp.

Nigeria confirms 11 cases

Nigeria has confirmed 11 cases of Ebola, after a doctor who treated the Liberian man who brought the disease to Lagos fell ill, the health minister said on Thursday.

The doctor had been involved in the initial treatment of Patrick Sawyer, who collapsed at Lagos airport on July 20, Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu told a news conference in the capital, Abuja.

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A staff member of the West African regional economic body ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) this week became the third person in Nigeria to die of the disease.

“Eight (others) are still alive, more than half of them are doing very well and actually showing signs of recovery ... under treatment,” Chukwu said.

US Embassy

The United States said on Thursday it has ordered family members at the U.S. Embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone, to depart because of limitations on regular medical care as a result of the Ebola outbreak.

“The Embassy recommended this step out of an abundance of caution, following the determination by the Department's Medical Office that there is a lack of options for routine health care services at major medical facilities due to the Ebola outbreak,” the State Department said in a statement.

The White House said U.S. President Barack Obama, in separate calls, spoke on Thursday with Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Sierra Leone President Ernest Koroma about the Ebola outbreak.

"In his conversations with both leaders, the president underscored the commitment of the United States to work with Liberia, Sierra Leone, and other international partners to contain the outbreak and expressed his condolences for the lives lost," the White House said.

In its latest update, released Wednesday, the World Health Organization said 1,069 people have died of Ebola this year in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. The region's total number of cases stands at just under 2,000.

In addition, 170 health care workers have been infected with Ebola and at least 81 have died among the overall toll of 1,069 people dead, according to WHO.

WHO has called this Ebola outbreak an international emergency. It has killed between 55 to 60 percent of those who have contracted the disease.

There is no known cure or vaccine for Ebola. On Tuesday, a WHO panel of medical experts said it is ethical to give patients unproven drugs to try to fight the disease.

Summit expands, airline service contracts

The outbreak has prompted the African Union to expand a summit in Burkina Faso next month so leaders can address the issue.

And on Thursday, another airline suspended flights to Africa. Korean Air Lines announced it will temporarily stop flights to and from Kenya's capital, Nairobi, in what it called a measure to contain Ebola.

No Ebola cases have been reported in Kenya, but WHO has classified the East African country as a high-risk area for the disease because of its role as a major transport hub.

Earlier, British Airways and the Middle Eastern airline Emirates suspended service to parts of West Africa in response to the outbreak.

Nurse breaks quarantine

A nurse with Ebola, which she caught from Sawyer, skipped quarantine in Lagos and headed to her home in the southeastern city of Enugu, where she was suspected to have had contact with 20 other people.

However, Chukwu said after initial screening, they realized only six people had been in contact with her, and they put those six under surveillance.

A total of 169 people were under surveillance in Lagos, after eight others were cleared, including all of Sawyer's primary contacts from when he came in.

The government also announced that Dangote Group, owned by Africa's richest man, Aliko Dangote, had donated $150 million to halt the spread of the virus.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.

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