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AKIPRESS.COM - States of emergency were in effect across West African nations on Friday with the death toll from the Ebola epidemic nearing 1,000, since the World Health Organization considered global travel restrictions to halt its spread, South China Morning Post reported.
Soldiers in Liberia’s Grand Cape Mount province – one of the worst-affected areas – set up road blocks to limit travel to the capital, Monrovia, where lawmakers gathered to ratify a 90-day state of emergency as bodies reportedly lay unburied in the city’s streets.
Two towns in the east of Sierra Leone, Kailahun and Kenema, where put under quarantine on Thursday, a government spokesman said, as nightclubs and entertainment venues across the country were ordered shut.
Public sector doctors in Nigeria suspended a month-long strike with fears rising that the virus is taking hold in Africa’s most populous country. The deadly tropical disease has already killed two and infected five others in Lagos.
Ebola has claimed at least 932 lives and infected more than 1,700 people since breaking out in West Africa earlier this year.
The WHO, which is debating whether to declare the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern” at an emergency closed-door session in Geneva, is expected to announce new measures on Friday, including possible global travel restrictions.
As African nations struggled with the scale of the epidemic, the scientists who discovered the virus in 1976 have called for an experimental drug being used on two infected Americans to also be made available for African victims.
Ebola causes severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding. It is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids, and people who live with or care for patients are most at risk.
Spain flew home a 75-year-old Roman Catholic priest, Miguel Pajares, the first European victim of the epidemic, on Thursday as Britain gave a further $5 million in aid to shore up Sierra Leone’s health system.
Officials said Pajares' condition was stable with no signs of bleeding.
The two infected Americans, who worked for Christian aid agencies in Liberia, have shown signs of improvement since being flown to a specialist hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. They are being given Zmapp, which is made by U.S. company Mapp Pharmaceuticals.
There is no proven treatment or cure for Ebola and the use of the experimental drug has sparked an ethical debate.
U.S. regulators meanwhile loosened restrictions on another experimental drug, which may allow it to be tried on infected patients in West Africa.
First discovered in 1976 and named after a river in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ebola has killed around two-thirds of those infected, with two outbreaks registering fatality rates approaching 90 percent. The latest outbreak has a fatality rate of around 55 percent.