Liberia shuts borders to curb Ebola

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Most border crossings in Liberia have been closed and communities hit by an Ebola outbreak face quarantine to try to halt the spread of the virus.

Screening centres are also being set up at the few major entry points that will remain open, such as the main airport.

Meanwhile, Nigeria largest’s airline, Arik Air, has suspended all flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone after a man with Ebola flew to Nigeria last week.

The virus has killed at least 660 people in West Africa since February.

The outbreak began in southern Guinea and spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. It is the world’s deadliest so far.

Nigeria has put all its entry points on red alert after confirming that a Liberian man died of Ebola after arriving at Lagos airport on Tuesday.

Ebola kills up to 90 per cent of those infected, but patients have a better chance of survival if they receive early treatment.

It spreads through contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids.

Arik Air said it took the decision to halt flights as a precautionary measure.

“We feel especially compelled to take the business decision to immediately suspend flight services into the two Ebola affected countries due to our interest in the well-being of Nigerians,” the airline, which operates routes across West Africa, said in a statement.

“We humbly suggest that as a first step, all inbound flights into Nigeria which originate from any of the Ebola affected countries, be immediately suspended,” it added.

In a statement on Sunday night, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said the special Ebola task force she was heading would ensure that “communities that are seriously affected will be quarantined and travels in and out of such communities restricted”.

Johnson Sirleaf’s new orders include strict observation at the international airport of all outgoing and incoming passengers, who are now liable for inspection and testing.

All government facilities and public places are to install public access for washing of hands and all hotels, restaurants, and film centres are to play five-minute information clips on Ebola awareness and prevention.

Over the weekend prominent Liberian doctor Samuel Brisbane died after a three-week battle with the virus.

President Johnson Sirleaf urged people to co-operate with health workers and Ebola awareness campaigners.

Last month she warned that anyone caught hiding suspected Ebola patients would be prosecuted.

Experts say the disease creates fear within communities and sick people are often stigmatised.

Liberian Senator Peter Coleman, a doctor and former health minister, told the BBC authorities needed to approach religious leaders to spread the message about Ebola as “people don’t seem to believe anything the government now says”

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