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Ebola hit nations to be isolated

The leaders of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea have met to launch a $100 million action plan.

A picture taken on 24 July 2014 shows staff of the Christian charity Samaritan's Purse putting on protective gear in the ELWA hospital in the Liberian capital Monrovia. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - West Africa's Ebola-hit nations have announced a cross-border isolation zone sealing off the epicentre of the world's worst-ever outbreak, as health chiefs warn the epidemic is spiralling out of control.

This involves a cross-border region in West Africa which has seen more than 70 percent of the epidemic.

Ebola has killed 729 people.

The leaders of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea have met to launch a $100 million action plan, which will see several hundred more medical staff deployed.

Meanwhile, there have been conflicting reports regarding suspected cases of the virus in South Africa.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases says there were six requests to be tested but none of these were positive.

The institute's Lucille Blumberg said, "We have had six requests to test and the number of requests were people who travelled back to the area. We've tested two and neither were positive."

Furthermore, the health department has slammed these reports saying that if such cases existed they would've been the first to know.

The department's Papo Maja said the department doesn't have any case confirmed to be Ebola.

AFRICAN LEADERS TO TAKE STRONGER MEASURES

West African leaders agreed on Friday to take stronger measures to try to bring the worst outbreak of Ebola under control and prevent it spreading outside the region.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and medical charity Medicins Sans Frontieres said on Friday the outbreak was out of control and more resources were urgently needed to deal with it.

The leaders banned the transportation of anyone showings signs of disease across borders, and pledged to introduce strict controls at international airports.

There was international alarm last week when a US citizen died of Ebola in Nigeria after flying there from Liberia. Two people quarantined in Lagos after coming into contact with him were released on Friday after they tested negative for the disease.

Video: Ebola patients back in the US.

The leaders also agreed to step up efforts to protect local healthcare workers and encourage them to return to work.

With healthcare systems struggling to cope with the highly infectious disease, which requires rigorous precautions to stop it spreading, more than 60 medical workers have lost their lives, hampering efforts to tackle the outbreak.

Liberia has already put in place tough measures including closing all schools and some government departments. Sierra Leone on Wednesday declared a state of emergency and called in troops to isolate Ebola victims.

However, Friday's agreement marked a reversal by Guinea, which had previously resisted taking tough steps, saying the disease was under control there.