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Ebola update: Guinea president declares virus outbreak as national health emergency

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Guinea has seen more than 500 cases of Ebola and 377 Ebola-related deaths since the deadly virus emerged in West Africa late last year. In an apparent bid to contain the spread of the highly fatal disease, Guinea's President Alpha Conde has declared the outbreak as a health emergency.

On Wednesday, Conde announced on state television that the country is facing a national health emergency because of the Ebola, which also affects three other West African countries namely Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

"The World Health Organisation has declared a global health emergency over Ebola," Conde said. "Considering that Guinea is a signatory to the WHO constitution I declare Ebola a national health emergency in Guinea."

The Guinean President also announced measures that the country will observe in order to prevent the further spread of the disease. These include having strict controls in national boundaries, imposing travel restriction and banning the transport of bodies to another town until the epidemic ends. Individuals who are suspected to have contracted the hemorrhagic fever will also be automatically hospitalized until results of laboratory tests become available.

Individuals who had been in contact with Ebola patients were also prohibited from leaving their homes until the surveillance period has ended. The president also warned those who intend to contravene with the measures as they would be considered as a public health threat and will have to deal with the "might of the law."

Conde's announcement came following the meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on the outbreak last week, which came up with a list of recommendations to prevent the global spread of the virus. Among the recommendations include having the head of state declare a national emergency and personally inform the nation facts about the situation including the measures being taken to contain the outbreak and the critical role of the citizens in controlling the spread of the disease.

Despite the international threat posed by the outbreak and after declaring Ebola as an international public health emergency, the World Health Organization did not recommend suspending flights in the affected region. It did advised strict monitoring of travelers in the affected countries.

The current outbreak started in Guinea in December last year and to date is already the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. As of Aug. 13, nearly 2,000 individuals in West Africa have contracted the disease. More than 1,000 of these patients died.

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