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SAA: No plans to suspend West Africa flights

The region is battling the worst-ever Ebola outbreak in human history.

FILE: SAA says it has no reason to cancel its West Africa flights despite the region battling what has been described as the worst outbreak of the Ebola virus in human history. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - South African Airways (SAA) says it has taken no decision to freeze flights in and out of West Africa as the region battles what's been described as the worst outbreak of the Ebola virus in human history.

The death toll has reached almost 900 and three new cases were reported in Nigeria on Monday.

While there have been suspected cases in South Africa, the country remains Ebola free.

Emirates have suspended its flights into Guinea, citing guidance from authorities.

But SAA's Tlali Tlali says SAA has no reason to follow suit.

"The National Department of Health has not issued any directive whatsoever to the airlines to put extraordinary travel-related measures in place. So based on that, we will continue with our operations."

At the same time, hundreds of troops were deployed in Sierra Leone and Liberia on Monday to quarantine communities hit by the deadly virus.

With healthcare systems in the West Africa nations overrun by the epidemic, the African Development Bank and World Bank said they would immediately disburse $260 million to the three countries worst affected - Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), which warned last week of catastrophic consequences if the disease were not controlled, reported 61 new deaths in the two days to 1 August and the disease continues to spread.

The outbreak began in February in the forests of Guinea. The toll there continues to rise, but the epicentre has since shifted to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone.

In Nigeria, where US citizen Patrick Sawyer became the first person to die of the virus after arriving from Liberia in late July, the WHO reported three new cases, two of them probable and one suspected.

Nigerian authorities had said earlier on Monday that a doctor who treated Sawyer had contracted the disease. A health ministry official declined to comment on the discrepancy.

Panic among local communities, which have attacked health workers and threatened to burn down isolation wards, prompted Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to announce tough measures last week, including the closure of schools and the quarantine of the remote forest region hardest hit by the disease.