Guinea Shuts Borders With West Africa In Bid To Halt Ebola Spread

In Guinea, where the deadly Ebola outbreak emerged in March, health officials announced Saturday that the country was closing its land borders with some of the West African nations where the virus is spreading rapidly. As a result, the Liberia and Sierra Leone borders have been closed until further notice.

Health Minister Remy Lamah told DW,

“We have provisionally closed the frontier between Guinea and Sierra Leone because of all the news that we have received from there recently.”

Lamah notes that the border closing is mostly in place to ensure infected individuals are not crossing over into Guinea as the country was already hard hit by the deadly Ebola virus. Guinean authorities on Saturday said they were temporarily shutting the borders primarily to prevent infected people crossing into Guinea, where at least 367 people have died of Ebola since March. Another 18 patients are being treated in isolation in the country where the first cases of the current outbreak were diagnosed.

Worldwide, over 1,000 people have died from Ebola with the vast majority in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Guinea is closing the borders in hopes of containing the problem internally and by reducing the number of newly infected individuals from crossing into the country. However, closing the borders is not a simple task. The borders are mostly in very rural areas making it difficult to police.

Guinea’s Minister for International Cooperation, Moustapha Koutoub Sano, told reporters in the capital Conakry that the decision was taken in consultation with the two neighbors. Therefore, all three countries were in agreement on closing the borders until the Ebola virus can be contained. Sierra Leone on Saturday deployed some 1,500 troops to two eastern districts – near the border with Guinea – where most of the country’s cases have been discovered.

According to CBC, Liberia is in the middle of civilian protests as it has been especially hard hit by the deadly virus. In Liberia alone, over 300 people have died from the killer Ebola virus. The people of Liberia are angry with the government with many protesting the delayed collection of bodies of Ebola victims. Several bodies had been lying by the roadside for two days in the central town of Weala, 75 kilometres from the capital of Monrovia, and no government agency had picked them up, residents told CBC.

Furthering the upset in Liberia, it has now been mandated that all Ebola victims be cremated. The Ebola virus spreads through the bodily fluids of its victims and many in West Africa have fallen ill after touching or handling corpses. Liberia’s government has ordered that all Ebola victims be cremated amid community opposition to neighborhood burials for fear of further contamination.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the CDC has made an official statement that they don’t believe the deadly Ebola virus will be contained quickly, and they will be watching the outbreak closely.

[Image Credit: DW]