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WHO: Ebola-hit countries must screen all departing travellers

Authorities in countries affected by Ebola should check people departing at international airports.

FILE: A doctor of the national public health institute controls the temperature of people at the airport, in Abidjan on 13 August 2014. Picture: AFP.

GENEVA - Authorities in countries affected by Ebola should check people departing at international airports, seaports and major border crossings and stop any with signs of the virus from travelling, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday.

In a statement, the UN health agency reiterated that the risk of getting infected with Ebola on an aircraft was small and said there was no need for wider travel or trade restrictions.

"Affected countries are requested to conduct exit screening of all persons at international airports, seaports and major land crossings, for unexplained febrile illness consistent with potential Ebola infection. Any person with an illness consistent with EVD (Ebola Virus Disease) should not be allowed to travel unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation."

Ebola has killed at least 1,145 people in four African nations and the death toll continues to climb.

The death toll from Ebola is still climbing and the UN health agency faces questions over whether it should have declared the outbreak a "public health emergency of international concern" before 8 August.

Healthcare workers fighting to stop the disease in often overcrowded and ill-equipped clinics often succumb to Ebola themselves. The World Health Organisation says more than 170 healthcare workers have been infected and at least 81 have died.

Healthcare workers in Liberia have administered three doses of the rare, experimental drug ZMapp to three doctors suffering from Ebola.

CROWD LOOTS EBOLA CENTRE IN LIBERIAN CAPITAL

A crowd attacked a makeshift Ebola quarantine centre in a rundown neighbourhood of the Liberian capital, throwing stones and looting equipment and food, witnesses said, and a health worker said patients had been removed from the building.

"They came in and took whatever they could take and took their patients because they don't want anyone here," a health worker, who declined to be named, said as a crowd gathered around the fence of the centre in the West Point neighbourhood late on Saturday.

"They threw stones," the worker said.

It was not immediately possible to confirm whether patients had been removed from the centre, which was housed in a school building.

Rocks lay in the street outside and rice was strewn on the ground in evidence of looting. Fearful health workers stood nearby waiting for an escort to leave the centre.

"My life is the most important thing now. I need them get out of here," the health worker said of the crowd, which later dispersed.

The incident highlighted the difficulty of containing the virus, which has killed more than 1,000 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since the outbreak began in March. Four people have also died in Nigeria.

Inside the school house, Daniel Dahn and his children sat alone in the darkness. There was no sign of other patients in the building.

Dahn said his wife had died that day of diarrhoea and vomiting. He did not know the cause of her death but had been isolated because of the possibility that he and the children might have become contaminated with Ebola.

A corpse lay in a nearby room, though it was unclear whether the person had died of the virus.

Residents in West Point said they mistrusted the government and feared it might import the virus into the community through the health centre. Underlying their concerns was a lack of information about the virus and fears about the impact it could have on the impoverished neighbourhood.

Such social tensions have compounded the challenge faced by West African governments and international agencies in tackling the epidemic.