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SA ready to combat Ebola

Experts have equipped Tygerberg Hospital to deal with any possible cases of Ebola in SA.

FILE: The Centre for Infectious Diseases says the both Western Cape is ready to fight possible case of Ebola. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - A local expert on infectious diseases says the Western Cape is ready to deal with any possible cases of Ebola.

Experts have setup Tygerberg hospital as the facility dedicated and prepared to deal with a suspected case of Ebola.

So far South Africa has not recorded a single case of the deadly virus.

The Centre for Infectious Diseases at Stellenbosch University held a symposium on Thursday on the disease.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed 932 people have died from Ebola in West Africa since March.

The head of infectious diseases at Stellenbosch University Jantjie Taljaard says the province has specifically prepared to deal with cases of Ebola.

He's confident with the necessary awareness it will be hard to miss an Ebola case.

"In the Western Cape and probably in Gauteng we are the big ports of entry and there's adequate measures that's been taken."

SIERRA LEONE ARMY BLOCKADES EBOLA AREAS

The army blockaded on Thursday rural areas in Sierra Leone that have been hit by the deadly Ebola virus, a senior officer said, after neighbouring Liberia declared a state of emergency to tackle the worst outbreak of the disease on record.

Worried Liberians queued at banks and stocked up on food in markets in the capital Monrovia while others took buses to unaffected parts of the West African country after President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf announced late on Wednesday the actions that will last for 90 days.

The state of emergency allows Liberia's government to curtail civil rights and deploy troops and police to impose quarantines on badly affected communities as it tries to contain the epidemic, which has hit Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria.

"Everyone is afraid this morning," civil servant Cephus Togba told Reuters by telephone. "Big and small they are all panicking. Everyone is stocking up the little they have."

With troops setting up checkpoints outside Monrovia on the way to some of the worst-hit towns, Johnson-Sirleaf said the state of emergency was necessary for "the very survival of our state and for the protection of the lives of our people".

In Washington, DC, a Liberian official said the country's health care system was collapsing with hospitals closing, medical workers fleeing and people dying of common diseases because they are afraid to seek treatment.

In Geneva, WHO experts were due to hold a second day of meetings to agree on emergency measures to tackle the highly contagious virus and whether to declare an international public health emergency.

After an experimental drug was administered to two US charity workers who were infected in Liberia, Ebola specialists have urged the WHO to offer such drugs to Africans. The UN agency has asked medical ethics experts to explore this option next week.

One of the deadliest diseases known to man, Ebola kills up to 90 percent of those infected. Symptoms include internal and external bleeding, diarrhoea and vomiting. Discovered in Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976, near the Ebola River, it is believed to be carried by fruit bats, which are eaten as a delicacy in West Africa.