CONAKRY, Guinea - Guinea has closed its borders with both Liberia and Sierra Leone in an effort to contain the spread of Ebola, which had killed 959 people in the three countries at the time of writing.
The 2014 outbreak began in Guinea, but Liberia and Sierra Leone are currently facing the highest frequency of new cases, while no new cases have been reported in Guinea for several days, suggesting medical personnel in the country are finally brining the spread of the disease under control.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday the spread of the virus was an international health emergency and effected West African nations, along with NGO medical groups, have been stepping up efforts to fight the virus.
Guinea's announcement comes after the WHO said the worst-affected area, which straddles the borders between the three countries, would be isolated and treated as a "unified zone". It is unclear what impact Guinea's decision will have on the plan.
Guinea's Health Minister Remy Lamah said the move was to prevent any new cases of Ebola crossing the border into the country. "We have provisionally closed the frontier between Guinea and Sierra Leone because of all the news that we have received from there recently," said the minister, adding that the border with Liberia would be closed indefinitely as well.
This development comes after Nigeria declared a national state of emergency after a Liberia man flew into the country carrying Ebola, infecting at least 8 people, one of whom has died, before dying himself in hospital. The Nigerian government has allocated USD $11-million for treatment centres and isolation faciltiies.
Zambia has closed its border with Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to prevent carriers of the virus entering the country, while Canada has become the first country in the developed world to confirm that a suspected case of Ebola is being treated. The patient in Brampton, Ontario has been isolated as a precaution, but is not confirmed as a case of Ebola. Last week a 56-year old man suspected of having the virus died in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
Ebola, a severe hemorrhagic virus is transmitted between humans through bodily fluids, but is believed to be carried by fruit bats. According to the World Health Organisation, there are currently 1,779 cases of Ebola in West Africa, while the death toll has risen to 959.
Late last week, the WHO announced 68 new cases and 29 deaths, they included 26 new cases in Sierra Leone and 38 in Liberia, but no new cases in Guinea, where the outbreak began.