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A DEADLY Ebola outbreak has spread from Guinea into neighbouring Liberia, reports aid agency Plan International.
Two deaths have been confirmed in Lofa County, a woman travelling from Guinea and a health worker.
Aid workers are concerned the highly contagious epidemic could spread across a region with porous borders.
At least 59 people have died in Guinea, mostly in the Forest Guinea region, which is close to the border with Sierra Leone and Liberia.
A few suspected cases have already been reported in Sierra Leone.
Plan works in the worst-affected areas and is calling for a co-ordinated emergency response involving Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to contain the deadly virus.
The charity has begun supporting Guinean authorities responding to the outbreak.
“This epidemic has the potential to become a regional crisis warranting a multi-county response,” says Ibrahima Touré, Plan’s Country Director in Guinea.
“With no effective treatment, raising awareness of the risk factors of Ebola infection and the protective measures individuals can take is the only way to reduce human infection and death.”
Plan staff in the affected area report that people are extremely concerned about the virus which spreads by contact with infected people or animals.
“Even though most people are going about their normal business, there is a strong fear of the disease in the communities. A few people have even left the affected area for Conakry,” says Mamady Dramé, Plan’s programme unit manager in Macenta, Forest Guinea.
“Rumours about the disease are rife in the affected areas. Sudden deaths of people have given rise to all sorts of stories among the population.
“The authorities, aware of the potential panic, are trying their best to encourage people to only consider information released by local officials and messages broadcast on local radio,” he adds.
The Ebola fever is one of the most virulent diseases known to mankind with a fatality rate up to 90 per cent
There is no treatment or vaccine available for Ebola fever, which makes it difficult to contain.
Plan will join the Guinean authorities in spreading information on preventive measures at the national level through radio, TV and SMS.
In Forest Guinea, the charity will particularly target children and schools in the communities.
Plan will also provide logistical support to the Guinean government in responding to the emergency.
For more information on Plan’s work or to make a donation call 0800 526 848 or visit www.plan-uk.org