Ebola: Liberia con­firms cases, Sene­gal shuts bor­der

Daily Trust - - AFRICA -

The first two cases of Ebola have been con­firmed in Liberia, af­ter spread­ing from neigh­bour­ing Guinea, where the deadly virus has killed 78 people.

The two Liberian cases are sis­ters, one of whom had re­cently re­turned from Guinea, of­fi­cials say. As con­cern grows over the out­break, Sene­gal has closed its nor­mally busy bor­der with Guinea.

Ebola is spread by close con­tact and kills be­tween 25% and 90% of its vic­tims.

Sene­galese singer Yous­sou Ndour can­celled Satur­day’s con­cert in Guinea’s cap­i­tal Con­akry be­cause of the out­break.

Al­though he had al­ready trav­elled to Con­akry, he told the BBC it would not be a good idea to bring hun­dreds or thou­sands of people to­gether in an en­closed area.

The out­break be­gan in Guinea’s re­mote south-east­ern For­est Re­gion but last week spread to the cap­i­tal, a sprawl­ing city of two mil­lion.

Sene­gal’s Health Min­is­ter Awa Marie Coll-Seck said the govern­ment de­cided to close its bor­der with Guinea af­ter con­fir­ma­tion the virus had reached Con­akry.

“When it used to be only in the south of Guinea, we didn’t do any­thing spe­cial. But now that it’s reached Con­akry, we be­lieve it’s safer to close our borders,” she said.

“We have also closed all weekly mar­kets, known as luma, in the south. And we’re hav­ing some dis­cus­sions with re­li­gious lead­ers re­gard­ing big re­li­gious events.”

There have also been sus­pected cases of Ebola in neigh­bour­ing Sierra Leone but these have not been con­firmed.

The out­break is be­lieved to have spread to hu­mans from fruit bats, which are a del­i­cacy in parts of south-east­ern Guinea.

The govern­ment has now banned the sale and con­sump­tion of the bats. It has also urged people to en­sure they reg­u­larly wash their hands with soap to pre­vent the virus from spread­ing.

Dis­cov­ered in 1976 af­ter an out­break in the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo, then Zaire, Ebola causes a se­vere haem­or­rhagic fever where vic­tims suf­fer vom­it­ing, di­ar­rhoea and both in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal bleed­ing.

Sci­en­tists have yet to de­velop an ef­fec­tive drug or vac­cine to fight it.

Fruit bats are be­lieved to be ma­jor car­ri­ers of the Ebola virus but do not show symp­toms.

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