Ebola outbreak: Ivory Coast closes western borders

Ivory Coast has closed its land borders with Ebola-affected West African neighbours Guinea and Liberia in an attempt to prevent the world's deadliest outbreak of the virus from spreading onto its territory, the government announced.

Filipino peacekeepers leave Liberia due to outbreak

Liberia security forces dressed in riot gear, left, control a crowd of people in the West Point area, as the government clamps down on the movement of people to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in Monrovia (Abbas Dulleh/Associated Press)

Ivory Coast has closed its land borders with Ebola-affected West African neighbours Guinea and Liberia in an attempt to prevent the world's deadliest outbreak of the virus from spreading onto its territory, the government announced.

A number of African nations have defied advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) and put in place restrictions on travel to and from the countries where Ebola has appeared, which also include Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

The Philippines on Saturday ordered 115 troops to return home from peacekeeping operations in Liberia due to the outbreak there.

Meanwhile, Sierra Leone's parliament has passed a law that means a two-year prison sentence for anyone harbouring Ebola victims, the justice minister said on Saturday.

"The amendment is needed at this time taking into account the fact that when the 1960 ordinance was drafted and passed into law, a disease such as Ebola did not exist," Justice Minister Frank Kargbo told Reuters.

The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has so far killed at least 1,427 people, mostly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and neighbouring Guinea. (P.K. Lee/ MSF/ Canadian Press)

Ivory Coast had previously imposed a ban on flights to and from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

"Faced with new outbreak sites and the reactivation of old sites...the Ivorian government decides to close its land borders with sister republics Guinea and Liberia," said a statement read on state-owned television late on Friday.

Liberia's Nimba County, which shares a border with Ivory Coast, has seen the number of Ebola cases balloon in recent weeks. According to Moses Massaquoi, the head of Ebola case management at Liberia's health ministry, 65 cases including 25 confirmed patients have now been reported there.

"The number of cases in Nimba has spiked recently and it is now an area of concern," Massaquoi told Reuters.

On Saturday, a cargo plane carrying 68 metric tonnes of health and hygiene supplies from UNICEF landed in Monrovia, bringing basic emergency items for health workers to protect themselves and prevent the spread of infection.

The shipment included 27 metric tonnes of concentrated chlorine for disinfection and water purification, 450,000 pairs of latex gloves, intravenous fluids, oral rehydration salts and ready-to-use therapeutic food to feed patients undergoing treatment.

Supplies will be distributed to health facilities across Liberia. 

'Shadow zones'

Ebola has killed 1,427 people out of 2,615 known cases identified since the West Africa outbreak was first identified in Guinea in March, according to WHO figures released on Friday.

However, families hiding infected loved ones and the existence of "shadow zones" where medics cannot go mean that the true scale of the epidemic is unknown, the UN health agency said.

The WHO has repeatedly said it does not recommend travel or trade restrictions for countries affected by Ebola, saying such measures could heighten food and supply shortages.

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