World on alert as Ebola outbreak claims 729 lives

FREETOWN (TIP): Sierra Leone declared a health emergency and called in troops to quarantine Ebola victims on Thursday, joining neighbouring Liberia in imposing tough controls as the death toll from the worstever outbreak of the virus hit 729 in West Africa. The World Health Organization said it was in 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 24-27 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 on Wednesday held a government meeting on Ebola and called it a threat requiring a response. The White House also said President Obama was being briefed on the situation. But international airlines association IATA said the WHO was not recommending any travel restrictions or border closures, and there would be a low risk to other passengers if an Ebola patient flew.

The outbreak of the haemorrhagic 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. Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma said he would meet leaders of Liberia and Guinea in Conakry on Friday to discuss ways to combat the epidemic.

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