Ebola outbreak: Four countries declare state of emergency

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The World Health Organization called the Ebola epidemic that has claimed nearly 1,000 lives a global health crisis.

And Nigeria became the latest country to declare a national emergency over the deadly virus on Friday.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the immediate release of US$11.7 million (S$14.6 million) to fund the fight against the disease as Africa’s most populous nation confirmed two more Ebola cases.

That brings the total number of infections to nine – including two deaths.

The WHO appealed for international aid to help afflicted countries after a rare meeting of the UN health body’s emergency committee, which urged screening of all people flying out of affected countries in west Africa.

It stopped short of calling for global travel restrictions, urging airlines to take strict precautions.

And it called on countries around the globe to be prepared to “detect, investigate and manage” Ebola cases if they should arise.

WHO director-general Margaret Chan appealed for greater help for those worst hit by the “largest, most severe and most complex outbreak in the nearly four-decade history of this disease”.

“I am declaring the current outbreak a public health emergency of international concern,” Chan said, warning of the “serious and unusual nature of the outbreak and the potential for further international spread”.

States of emergency had already been declared in the hardest hit countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

In the first European case, Spain is treating an elderly priest who contracted the disease while helping patients in Liberia. - Reuters