7 August 2014

West Africa: Liberia Declares State of Emergency Over Ebola Outbreak

Photo: Boakai Fofana/AllAfrica
Women in Monrovia hold a prayer gathering against Ebola by the roadside while trying to not touch each other.

Liberia's president has declared a state of emergency in the country over the deadly Ebola outbreak, calling it a "clear and present danger." Some 300 Liberians have been infected by the virus.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf declared the state of emergency in Liberia overnight Wednesday, warning that extraordinary measures are needed "for the very survival of our state."

"The scope and scale of the epidemic, the virulence and deadliness of the virus now exceed the capacity and statutory responsibility of any one government agency or ministry," she said in her state-of-emergency speech.

She said the state of emergency would last for a minimum of 90 days and the plans would be presented to parliament on Thursday.

Some 300 Liberians have been infected by the virus, which has been raging in west Africa's forests since the start of the year. More than half of those who have caught it have died.

"The threat continues to grow," warned Sirleaf.

"Ignorance, poverty, as well as entrenched religious and cultural practices continue to exacerbate the spread of the disease," she added.

WHO releases new figures

During a two-day meeting Wednesday in Geneva to discuss the epidemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) said 932 persons had died from West Africa's Ebola outbreak, including 45 patients who died between August 2 and August 4. Most of the newly reported deaths were in Liberia.

The number of suspected, probable or confirmed cases had risen to 1,711, the WHO said.

Fears are also growing that the virus is taking hold in Africa's most populous nation of Nigeria. On Wednesday, Nigeria's health ministry confirmed that a nurse had died from the virus and that five more people had been diagnosed with the disease.

The highly contagious virus is a form of hemorrhagic fever that can cause severe fever, unstoppable bleeding and organ failure.

(AFP, AP, Reuters)

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