International

Ebola outbreak: Guinea shuts borders with Sierra Leone, Liberia

CONAKRY: Guinea closed its borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia on Saturday in a bid to halt the spread of an Ebola epidemic that has killed nearly 1,000 people in the three countries this year.

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Authorities said the decision was taken primarily to prevent infected people crossing into Guinea, where at least 367 people have died of Ebola since March and 18 others are being treated in isolation.

The West African Ebola outbreak is the worst in history and the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday it represents an international health emergency that will likely continue spreading for months.

It has put a severe strain on the health systems of affected states and governments have responded with a range of measures including national emergencies declared in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, which confirmed seven cases of Ebola in Lagos.

“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 said, noting Guinea had also closed its border with Liberia.

The measures had been taken in consultation with the two neighbours, Guinea’s Minister for International Cooperation, Moustapha Koutoub Sano, told a news conference. There was no immediate comment from Liberia and Sierra Leone.

While Guinea’s official land border crossings with the countries will shut, it will be extremely difficult to prevent people in rural areas crossing its long and porous frontiers.

Ebola is one of the deadliest diseases known to humanity. It has no proven cure and there is no vaccine to prevent infection. The most effective treatment involves alleviating symptoms that include fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.

The rigorous use of quarantine is needed to prevent its spread as well as high standards of hygiene for anyone who might come into contact with the disease.

These measures have proved hard to enforce given that Ebola has spread in rural parts of some of the world’s poorest countries. The task is made harder because of mistrust of health workers in areas with inadequate public health services.

The WHO said on Friday 961 people have died during the outbreak and 1,779 have been infected.- Reuters

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