Ebola death toll hits 932
The outbreak of the disease has prompted the deployment of troops to quarantine the worst-hit areas.
MONROVIA - The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced the death toll from the deadly Ebola virus has risen to 932.
It says between Saturday and Monday 45 patients died from the hemorrhagic fever.
Nigeria has declared an emergency after confirming its second Ebola death today adding that five more infected patients are being treated in isolation.
The outbreak of the deadly haemorrhagic fever has overwhelmed basic healthcare systems and prompted the deployment of troops to quarantine the worst-hit areas in the remote border region of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
International alarm at the spread of the disease increased when a US citizen died in Nigeria last month after flying there from Liberia. The health minister said on Wednesday that a Nigerian nurse who had treated the deceased Patrick Sawyer had herself died of Ebola, and five other people were being treated in an isolation ward in Lagos, Africa's largest city.
In Saudi Arabia, a man suspected of contracting Ebola during a recent business trip to Sierra Leone also died early on Wednesday in Jeddah, the Health Ministry said. Saudi Arabia has already suspended pilgrimage visas from West African countries, which could prevent those hoping to visit Mecca for the Haj in early October.
Liberia, where the death toll is rising fastest, is struggling to cope. Many residents are panicking, in some cases casting out the bodies of family members onto the streets of Monrovia to avoid quarantine measures.
Beneath heavy rain, ambulance sirens wailed through the otherwise quiet streets of Monrovia on Wednesday as residents heeded a government request to stay at home for three days of fasting and prayers.
"Everyone is afraid of Ebola. You cannot tell who has Ebola or not. Ebola is not like a cut mark that you can see and run," said Sarah Wehyee as she stocked up on food at the local market in Paynesville, an eastern suburb of Monrovia.
St. Joseph's Catholic hospital was shut down after the Cameroonian hospital director died from Ebola, authorities said. Six staff subsequently tested positive for the disease, including two nuns and 75-year old Spanish priest Miguel Pajares, who is due to be repatriated by a special medical aircraft on Wednesday.
SA TO SEND MOBILE LAB TO WEST AFRICA
It's been announced that South Africa will send a mobile laboratory to West Africa to bolster treatment in countries affected by the virus.
Health minister Aaron Motsoaledi has been meeting with his counterparts from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Kempton Park to discuss ways to curb the outbreak.
He says as the death toll continues to rise, preventative measures have now been put in place to make sure the killer virus does not cross into Southern Africa.
Health ministers in the SADC region confirmed there has not been an outbreak of Ebola but have warned people to be vigilant.
The ministers say there will be increased cross-border collaboration to ensure the virus is controlled.
Health departments in the region will also strengthen surveillance for early detection of Ebola and stop it from spreading.
A fund will also be established to assist SADC countries if need be.
There'll be an increase in the training of community health workers on how best to treat patients with Ebola.
TROOPS DEPLOYED IN OPERATION "WHITE SHIELD"
Spain's health ministry denied that one of the nuns - born in Equatorial Guinea but holding Spanish nationality - had tested positive for Ebola. The other nun is Congolese.
"We hope they can evacuate us. It would be marvellous, because we know that, if they take us to Spain, at least we will be in good hands," Pajares told CNN in Spanish this week. Healthcare workers are in the front line of fighting the virus, and two US health workers from Christian medical charity Samaritan's Purse caught the virus in Monrovia and are now receiving treatment in an Atlanta hospital.
The two saw their conditions improve by varying degrees in Liberia after they received an experimental drug, a representative for the charity said.
Three of the world's leading Ebola specialists urged the WHO to offer people in West Africa the chance to take experimental drugs, too, but the agency said it "would not recommend any drug that has not gone through the normal process of licensing and clinical trials."
Highly contagious, Ebola kills more than half of the people who contract it. Victims suffer from fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and internal and external bleeding.
Many regular hospitals and clinics have been forced to close across Liberia, often because health workers are too afraid of contracting the virus themselves or because of abuse by locals who think the disease is a government conspiracy.
In an effort to control the disease's spread, Liberia has deployed the army to implement controls and isolate severely affected communities, an operation codenamed "White Shield".
The information ministry said on Wednesday that soldiers were being deployed to the isolated, rural counties of Lofa, Bong, Cape Mount and Bomi to set up checkpoints and implement tracing measures on residents suspected of coming into contact with victims.
Neighbouring Sierra Leone said it has implemented new restrictions at the airport and that it was asking passengers to fill in forms and take a temperature test.
Some major airlines, such as British Airways and Emirates, have halted flights to affected countries, while many expatriates were getting out, government officials said.
"We've seen international workers leaving the country in numbers," Liberia's Finance Minister Amara Konneh told Reuters.
Greece advised its citizens on Wednesday against non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria and said it would take extra measures at its entry ports.