Kenya bans travel from Ebola-hit countries

An electron micrograph image of an Ebola virus virion.
PHOTO: Kenya bans travel from Ebola-hit countries

NAIROBI, Kenya - Kenya has become the latest country to ban travellers from parts of Ebola-hit West Africa, while Nigeria scrambled to stop the deadly disease from spreading through the continent's most populous nation.

Kenyan Health Minister James Macharia said on Saturday that the country is closing its borders to travellers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - the nations most affected by the worst Ebola outbreak to date. National carrier Kenya Airways said it would suspend flights to Freetown and Monrovia when the ban takes effect on Wednesday.

The move comes amid an international appeal to help contain the deadly virus, which has already killed 1,145 people across West Africa this year.

In Spain, where a missionary died recently of Ebola after being infected in Liberia, another person was placed in hospital isolation on Saturday and was being tested for the disease.

Nigeria's Health Minister, Onyebuchi Chukwu, told reporters on Saturday that 12 people have so far tested positive for the virus, including four who died, while 189 others are under surveillance in megacity Lagos and six in the south-eastern town of Enugu.

"The patients under treatment have (been) moved to the new 40-bed isolation ward provided by the Lagos state government," he said.

Professor Chukwu added that five of the patients had almost fully recovered but said that an experimental drug, nano silver, meant for the patients had not been approved by the National Health Research Ethics Committee.

He added that the first Nigerian found to have Ebola, a female doctor, had been discharged.

Nigeria has trained 800 volunteers to help in the fight against Ebola, following an appeal by the authorities in Lagos for volunteers to make up for a shortage of medical personnel because of a six-week doctors' strike over pay.

Experts say Ebola is raging out of control in the region, with the World Health Organisation declaring the epidemic an international health emergency and appealing for global aid.