Sierra Leone declares emergency as Ebola death toll hits 729

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Sierra Leone declares emergency as Ebola death toll hits 729
A picture taken on July 24, 2014 shows staff of the Christian charity Samaritan's Purse putting on protective gear in the ELWA hospital in the Liberian capital Monrovia. An American doctor battling West Africa's Ebola epidemic has himself fallen sick with the disease in Liberia, Samaritan's Purse said on July 27. AFP PHOTO / ZOOM DOSSO (Photo credit should read ZOOM DOSSO/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 24, 2014 shows staff of the Christian charity Samaritan's Purse putting on protective gear in the ELWA hospital in the Liberian capital Monrovia. An American doctor battling West Africa's Ebola epidemic has himself fallen sick with the disease in Liberia, Samaritan's Purse said on July 27. AFP PHOTO / ZOOM DOSSO (Photo credit should read ZOOM DOSSO/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 24, 2014 shows protective gear including boots, gloves, masks and suits, drying after being used in a treatment room in the ELWA hospital in the Liberian capital Monrovia. An American doctor battling West Africa's Ebola epidemic has himself fallen sick with the disease in Liberia, Christian charity Samaritan's Purse said on July 27. AFP PHOTO / ZOOM DOSSO (Photo credit should read ZOOM DOSSO/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on June 28, 2014 shows members of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. The World Health Organization has warned that Ebola could spread beyond hard-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to neighbouring nations, but insisted that travel bans were not the answer. To date, there have been 635 cases of haemorrhagic fever in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, most confirmed as Ebola. A total of 399 people have died, 280 of them in Guinea. AFP PHOTO / CELLOU BINANI (Photo credit should read CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images)
Health workers wearing protective suits walk in an isolation center for people infected with Ebola at Donka Hospital in Conakry on April 14, 2014. Guinea's Foreign Minister Francois Fall said on April 14 that the west African country had brought the spread of the deadly Ebola virus under control after more than 100 people have died. The outbreak is one of the most deadly, with 168 cases 'clinically compatible' with Ebola virus disease reported, including 108 deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest update on April 14. CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images
Members of the Guinean Red Cross speak with a resident during an awareness campaign on the Ebola virus on April 11, 2014 in Conakry. Guinea has been hit by the most severe strain of the virus, known as Zaire Ebola, which has had a fatality rate of up to 90 percent in past outbreaks, and for which there is no vaccine, cure or even specific treatment. The World Health Organization (WHO) has described west Africa's first outbreak among humans as one of the most challenging since the virus emerged in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images
A woman prepares food at a 'maquis,' a small African restaurant, in Kobakro, outside Abidjan, which now serves various types of meat instead of bushmeat, on April 8, 2014. The Ministry of Health has asked Ivorians, 'particularly fond of porcupine and agouti,' a small rodent, to avoid consuming or handling bushmeat, as an unprecedented Ebola epidemic hit West Africa, claiming more than 90 lives. The virus can spread to animal primates and humans who handle infected meat -- a risk given the informal trade in 'bushmeat' in forested central and west Africa. Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images
People walk past the sign of a 'maquis,' a small African restaurant which serves bushmeat, in Kobakro, outside Abidjan, on April 8, 2014. The Ministry of Health has asked Ivorians, 'particularly fond of porupine and agouti,' a small rodent, to avoid consuming or handling the meat, as an unprecedented Ebola epidemic hit West Africa, claiming more than 90 lives. The virus can spread to animal primates and humans who handle infected meat -- a risk given the informal trade in 'bushmeat' in forested central and west Africa. ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images
Staff of the 'Doctors without Borders' ('Medecin sans frontieres') medical aid organisation bury the body of a person killed by viral haemorrhagic fever, at a center for victims of the Ebola virus in Guekedou, on April 1, 2014. The viral haemorrhagic fever epidemic raging in Guinea is caused by several viruses which have similar symptoms -- the deadliest and most feared of which is Ebola. SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
A nurse of the 'Doctors without Borders' ('Medecin sans frontieres') medical aid organisation examines a patient in the in-take area at a center for victims of the Ebola virus in Guekedou, on April 1, 2014. The viral haemorrhagic fever epidemic raging in Guinea is caused by several viruses which have similar symptoms -- the deadliest and most feared of which is Ebola. SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
Members and supporters of the Parti Democratique Senegalais (PDS, Senegal's Democratic Party) hold poster showing their leader, former Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade and his son Karim, and a placard reading 'Macky Ebola Sall' (referring to the current president and the deadly virus) as they rally in front of the party's headquarters in Dakar on April 23, 2014. Senegal's former president Abdoulaye Wade was due to return home on Wednesday after two years abroad following his election defeat, with his son facing jail for corruption. Wade, who held power from 2000 to 2012, moved to France after suffering a bitter defeat to current President Macky Sall, his former prime minister turned arch-rival, in March 2012. SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
Health workers speak to relatives of peolpe infected with Ebola at an isolation center at Donka Hospital in Conakry on April 14, 2014. Guinea's Foreign Minister Francois Fall said on April 14 that the west African country had brought the spread of the deadly Ebola virus under control after more than 100 people have died. The outbreak is one of the most deadly, with 168 cases 'clinically compatible' with Ebola virus disease reported, including 108 deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest update on April 14. CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images
Health workers walk in an isolation center for people infected with Ebola at Donka Hospital in Conakry on April 14, 2014. Guinea's Foreign Minister Francois Fall said on April 14 that the west African country had brought the spread of the deadly Ebola virus under control after more than 100 people have died. The outbreak is one of the most deadly, with 168 cases 'clinically compatible' with Ebola virus disease reported, including 108 deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest update on April 14. CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images
Staff of the 'Doctors without Borders' ('Medecin sans frontieres') medical aid organisation carry the body of a person killed by viral haemorrhagic fever, at a center for victims of the Ebola virus in Guekedou, on April 1, 2014. The viral haemorrhagic fever epidemic raging in Guinea is caused by several viruses which have similar symptoms -- the deadliest and most feared of which is Ebola. SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
A worker transports dirt in a wheelbarrow at a center for victims of the Ebola virus in Guekedou, on April 1, 2014. The viral hemmorrhagic fever epidemic raging in Guinea is caused by several viruses which have similar symptoms -- the deadliest and most feared of which is Ebola. SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
Guinean hospital staff and staff of the 'Doctors without Borders' ('Medecin sans frontieres') medical aid organisation listen to a nurse from the aid organisation speak on April 1, 2014, in Guekedou, during a talk about viral hemorrhagic fever. The viral hemorrhagic fever epidemic raging in Guinea is caused by several viruses which have similar symptoms -- the deadliest and most feared of which is Ebola. SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
A Senegalese hygienist demonstrates how to protect oneself against the Ebola virus on April 8, 2014 at Dakar airport, during a visit of the Senegalese health minister to check the safety measures put in place to fight against the virus' spread in western Africa. West Africa's Ebola outbreak is among the 'most challenging' ever to strike since the disease emerged four decades ago, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on April 8, as the suspected death toll from the virus hit 111. SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
Senegal's health minister Awa Marie Coll Seck (2nd L) listens to Alioune Fall (R), chief doctor of Dakar airport, as she visits Dakar airport on April 8, 2014 to check the safety measures put in place to fight against the spread of the Ebola virus in western Africa. West Africa's Ebola outbreak is among the 'most challenging' ever to strike since the disease emerged four decades ago, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on April 8, as the suspected death toll from the virus hit 111. SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
A view of gloves and boots used by medical staff, drying in the sun, at a center for victims of the Ebola virus in Guekedou, on April 1, 2014. The viral haemorrhagic fever epidemic raging in Guinea is caused by several viruses which have similar symptoms -- the deadliest and most feared of which is Ebola. SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
A health specialist prepares filtered water at an isolation ward for patients at the Doctors Without Borders facility in Guékedou, southern Guinea. Guinea's President Alpha Conde warned of a 'health emergency' as authorities raced to contain a spiraling Ebola epidemic which has killed 78 people and prompted neighboring Senegal to close its border. SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
Employees of the sanitary control of Conakry airport check passengers before they leave the country on April 10, 2014. International aid organisations launched a series of emergency measures across west Africa on Thursday in a bid to contain one of the worst ever outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus, which is threatening every country in the region. The tropical bug is thought to have killed more than 110 people in Guinea and Liberia since January, with suspected cases reported in Mali and Sierra Leone and aid workers warning that vital hygiene products could run out. AFP PHOTO / CELLOU BINANI (Photo credit should read CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images)
Employees of the sanitary control of Conakry airport check passengers before they leave the country on April 10, 2014. International aid organisations launched a series of emergency measures across west Africa on Thursday in a bid to contain one of the worst ever outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus, which is threatening every country in the region. The tropical bug is thought to have killed more than 110 people in Guinea and Liberia since January, with suspected cases reported in Mali and Sierra Leone and aid workers warning that vital hygiene products could run out. AFP PHOTO / CELLOU BINANI (Photo credit should read CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images)
Employees of the sanitary control of Conakry airport check passengers before they leave the country on April 10, 2014. International aid organisations launched a series of emergency measures across west Africa on Thursday in a bid to contain one of the worst ever outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus, which is threatening every country in the region. The tropical bug is thought to have killed more than 110 people in Guinea and Liberia since January, with suspected cases reported in Mali and Sierra Leone and aid workers warning that vital hygiene products could run out. AFP PHOTO / CELLOU BINANI (Photo credit should read CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images)
Employees of the sanitary control of Conakry airport check passengers before they leave the country on April 10, 2014. International aid organisations launched a series of emergency measures across west Africa on Thursday in a bid to contain one of the worst ever outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus, which is threatening every country in the region. The tropical bug is thought to have killed more than 110 people in Guinea and Liberia since January, with suspected cases reported in Mali and Sierra Leone and aid workers warning that vital hygiene products could run out. AFP PHOTO / CELLOU BINANI (Photo credit should read CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images)
A member of the Guinean Red Cross uses a megaphone to give information concerning the Ebola virus during an awareness campaign on April 11, 2014 in Conakry. Guinea has been hit by the most severe strain of the virus, known as Zaire Ebola, which has had a fatality rate of up to 90 percent in past outbreaks, and for which there is no vaccine, cure or even specific treatment. The World Health Organization (WHO) has described west Africa's first outbreak among humans as one of the most challenging since the virus emerged in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. AFP PHOTO / CELLOU BINANI (Photo credit should read CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images)
A man reads a newspaper featuring a front page story on the death of Liberian diplomat Patrick Sawyer (pictured with his wife Decontee) who died of the Ebloa virus in Lagos on July 30, 2014. Nigeria is on alert against the possible spread of Ebola after the first confirmed death from the virus in Lagos, Africa's biggest city and the country's financial capital. The victim, who worked for the Liberian government, collapsed at Lagos international airport after arriving on a flight from Monrovia via the Togolese capital Lome, according to the Nigerian government. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) warned that the crisis gripping Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone would only get worse and could not rule out it spreading to other countries. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
A pharmacist searches for drugs in a pharmacy in Lagos on July 26, 2014. Nigeria was on alert against the possible spread of Ebola on July 26, a day after the first confirmed death from the virus in Lagos, Africa's biggest city and the country's financial capital. The health ministry said Friday that a 40-year-old Liberian man died at a private hospital in Lagos from the disease, which has now killed more than 650 people in four west African countries since January. AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
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By Umaru Fofana

(Reuters) - Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency and called in troops to quarantine Ebola victims on Thursday, joining neighboring Liberia in imposing tough controls as the death toll from the worst-ever outbreak of the virus hit 729 in West Africa.

The World Health Organisation said it was in urgent talks with donors and international agencies to deploy more medical staff and resources to one of the world's poorest regions.

The WHO reported 57 new deaths between July 24 and July 27 in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

Authorities in Nigeria, which recorded its first Ebola case last week when a U.S. citizen died after arriving on a flight from Liberia, said all passengers traveling from areas at risk would be temperature-screened for the virus.



Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

In a measure of rising international concern, Britain on Wednesday held a government meeting on Ebola and called it a threat requiring a response. The White House has also said President Barack Obama was being briefed on the situation.

But international airlines association IATA said the WHO was not recommending any travel restrictions or border closures due to the outbreak, and there would be a low risk to other passengers if an Ebola patient flew.

The outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever, for which there is no known cure, began in the forests of remote eastern Guinea in February, but Sierra Leone now has the highest number of cases.

Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma said he would meet with the leaders of Liberia and Guinea in Conakry on Friday to discuss ways to combat the epidemic. He canceled a visit to Washington for a U.S.-Africa summit next week.

"Sierra Leone is in a great fight ... Failure is not an option," Koroma said in a speech late on Wednesday, adding that the state of emergency would initially last between 60 and 90 days. "Extraordinary challenges require extraordinary measures."

He said police and the military would enforce a quarantine on all epicenters of the disease, and would help health officers and NGOs do their work unhindered, following a number of attacks on health workers by local communities.

House-to-house searches would be implemented to trace Ebola victims and homes where the disease was identified would be quarantined until cleared by medical teams, he said, announcing a ban on all public meetings except those related to Ebola.

The moves echoed a raft of measures unveiled by Liberia on Wednesday, which included the closure of all schools across the country and a possible quarantine of affected communities.

NEW AIRPORT CONTROLS

The disease kills up to 90 percent of those infected, though the fatality rate in the current epidemic is running at around 60 percent. In the final stages, its symptoms include external bleeding, massive internal bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea - at which point the virus becomes highly contagious.

Sierra Leone, a former British colony, said passengers arriving and departing Lungi International Airport would be subject to new protocols, including body temperature scans.

Two regional airlines, Nigeria's Arik and Asky, have canceled all flights to Freetown and Monrovia after a U.S. citizen, Patrick Sawyer, died in Lagos last week after arriving on an Asky flight from Liberia.

The WHO said authorities in Nigeria had identified 59 people in the airport and hospital who had come into contact with Sawyer, whose flight also stopped in Ghana and Togo.

Nigeria's Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) suspended Asky for bringing Ebola to Lagos, a teeming mega-city of 21 million people. Many people had questioned how a person showing signs of the disease - whose sister had died of it three weeks previous - had been able to board an international flight.

Health officials are scrambling to avoid the nightmare scenario of an Ebola outbreak in Lagos, the continent's biggest metropolis, but say there are so far no signs of further cases.

Ghana also announced on Thursday it was introducing body temperature screening of all travelers from West African countries at Accra airport and other major entry points, with isolation centers being set up in three towns.

Kyei Faried, deputy director in charge of disease control, told a news conference that authorities had a list of 11 passengers who disembarked from Sawyer's flight and were monitoring them. The government is considering whether to ban flights from affected countries.

The U.S. Peace Corps said it was withdrawing 340 volunteers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea after two of them came in contact with a person who later died of the virus.

(Additional reporting by Daniel Flynn in Dakar, Tom Miles in Geneva, Tim Cocks in Lagos, Clair MacDougall in Monrovia and Adam Bailes in Freetown; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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