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Cross-Border Isolation Zone Comes into Effect as Nigeria confirms Second Ebola Case

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Amidst increasing warnings that the deadly Ebola epidemic is growing out of control, three Ebola-hit West African nations have agreed to impose a cross-border isolation zone at the epicentre of the world’s worst-ever outbreak. Meanwhile officials in Nigeria disclosed Monday that a second Ebola case just three weeks after the first was recorded.

The announcement to impose a cross-border isolation zone came hours after an emergency summit was held in the Guinean capital on Friday, where leaders of the affected states, along with a number of regional heads of state, met to discuss the outbreak. Hadja Saran Darab, the secretary-general of the Mano River Union bloc grouping the nations disclosed “we have agreed to take important and extraordinary actions at the inter-country level to focus on cross-border regions that have more than 70 percent of the epidemic,” adding “these areas will be isolated by police and military. The people in these areas being isolated will be provided with material support.” While Darab did not outline the exact area which will be part of the isolation zone, the epicentre of the outbreak has a diameter of almost 300 kilometres (185 miles), and spreads from Kenema in eastern Sierra Leone to Macenta in southern Guinea, and covers most of Liberia’s extreme northern forests.

During the summit, the leaders of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone launched a US $100 million (£59 million) action plan that will see several hundred more medical staff deployed to battle the epidemic. The three countries will also increase their efforts to prevent and detect suspected cases urge better border surveillance and reinforce the WHO’s sub-regional outbreak coordination centre, which has been set up in Guinea. During the summit, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Margaret Chan also revealed that the response of the three countries to the epidemic had been “woefully inadequate,” adding that the outbreak was now “moving faster than our efforts to control it.”

New data released Friday by the WHO has indicated that the Ebola virus has already killed more than 700 people, with more than 1,000 cases reported in four West African countries. Officials at the WHO are also warning that if the disease continues to spread, it could cause a “catastrophic” loss of life and result in severe economic disruption.

On Monday, officials in Nigeria revealed a second Ebola case, that of one of the doctors who treated a man who died from Ebola after he arrived in Lagos from Liberia.

Nigeria’s Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu has indicated that seventy people who may have come into contact with Patrick Sawyer, the man who died of Ebola, have been tracked down and are being monitored, while eight have been placed in quarantine at a facility in Lagos. Patrick Sawyer, an employee of the Liberian finance ministry, had arrived in Lagos from Monrovia after changing planes in Togo’s capital, Lome on 20 July. He died five days later while in quarantine at a private hospital in Lagos. Sources believe that he contracted the virus from his sister.

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