News / Africa

Guinea Closes Borders in Bid to Stop Ebola Virus from Spreading

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West African countries hardest hit by Ebola are ramping up efforts to stop the virus from spreading.

Guinea announced Saturday it was closing its borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone. Together, the three countries have lost nearly 1,000 lives to the disease.

One of the most recent fatalities was a Congolese nun, who contracted Ebola while working with Spanish Catholic missionaries in Liberia.

There have also been at least two Ebola deaths in Nigeria, which along with the other three countries, has declared a state of emergency to authorize additional funds to address the crisis.

The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa is on pace to infect more people than all previous outbreaks of the virus combined. The disease has no known cure or vaccine.

In response to the outbreak, the World Health Organization has declared the epidemic an international health emergency.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has activated its emergency operation center at the highest level. CDC chief Dr. Thomas Frieden says his agency will soon have 50 disease experts in West Africa, and that he is confident the virus will not result in any major outbreak in the United States.

The World Health Organization Friday reported the number of Ebola cases in the four West African countries affected stands at 1,779, and that 961 of those people have already died.

WHO director Dr. Margaret Chan says the four nations "do not have the capacity to manage an outbreak of this size and complexity," and appealed for greater international aid.

Liberia's Assistant Minister of Health Tolbert Nyenswah made a similar plea, telling VOA that Liberian health workers are afraid of being infected.

He said Liberia's government has started discussions with the U.S. National Institutes of Heath to see about obtaining some of the experimental medicine that seems to be helping two U.S. health workers who contracted Ebola in Liberia.
Ebola patients may experience fever, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches and uncontrollable bleeding from all openings in the body, including the eyes, mouth and ears. Initial symptoms are often similar to malaria.

Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.

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