US issues travel warning for Ebola-hit Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory against non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in an effort to curb the spread of the ebola outbreak in West Africa that has so far claimed more than 700 lives.
Dr Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, said his agency is stepping up its response to the outbreak and will send an additional 50 health experts to assist with efforts to control the outbreak.
Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency and called in troops to quarantine Ebola victims today, joining neighbouring Liberia in imposing tough controls as the death toll from the worst-ever outbreak of the virus hit 729 in West Africa.
The World Health Organisation said it was in urgent talks with donors and international agencies to deploy more medical staff and resources to one of the world's poorest regions.
The WHO reported 57 new deaths between July 24 and July 27 in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
Authorities in Nigeria, which recorded its first Ebola case last week when a US citizen died after arriving on a flight from Liberia, said all passengers travelling from areas at risk would be temperature-screened for the virus.
In a measure of rising international concern, Britain held yesterday a government meeting on Ebola and called it a threat requiring a response. The White House has also said President Barack Obama was being briefed on the situation.
But international airlines association IATA said the WHO was not recommending any travel restrictions or border closures due to the outbreak, and there would be a low risk to other passengers if an Ebola patient flew..
The outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever, for which there is no known cure, began in the forests of remote eastern Guinea in February, but Sierra Leone now has the highest number of cases.
The disease kills up to 90 percent of those infected, though the fatality rate in the current epidemic is running at around 60 percent. In the final stages, its symptoms include external bleeding, massive internal bleeding, vomiting and diarrhoea - at which point the virus becomes highly contagious.