Guinea president declares 45-day Ebola 'emergency' in five regions

Guinean President Alpha Conde has declared a 45-day "health emergency" in five regions of the Ebola-hit nation in a bid to stem the spread of the deadly disease.

The focus of the virus "has shifted to our country's ", the president said in a statement published in national media.

"That is why I am declaring a reinforced for a period of 45 days in the prefectures of Forecariah, Coyah, Dubreka, Boffa and Kindia," he said.

The regions affected are in the west and southwest of the country.

In the capital Conakry, "strict measures will be taken to increase vigilance in communities," the president added.

Since the Ebola outbreak began in Guinea in December 2013, more than 24,000 people in nine countries have been infected with the virus, and over 10,000 of them have died.

All but a handful of those deaths have occurred in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Conde announced a series of measures on Saturday, including the temporary closure of hospitals and clinics where there have been cases of Ebola.

"Anyone who hides the sick or moves bodies from one locality to another will be prosecuted according to the law for endangering the lives of others," Conde warned.

He called for a continued "unwavering commitment" to the fight against Ebola.

The World Health Organization declared in January that the epidemic was finally declining in west Africa after the three countries at the epicentre recorded a steady drop in cases.

But renewed concern has been triggered by fresh setbacks in the worst-hit nations.

Liberia on Saturday announced the death of a woman who last week became the country's first new Ebola patient in more than a month. Health officials also said two new suspected cases had been identified.

Liberia has recorded more than 4,300 Ebola deaths but was at an advanced stage of recovery, expecting to be declared Ebola-free by mid-April before the latest case in the capital Monrovia.

And Sierra Leone on Friday began a new three-day nationwide lockdown sparked by fears that the virus was making a comeback in certain parts of the country.

The country's six million people, with the exception of workers, were to remain indoors from 0600 GMT Friday to 1800 GMT Sunday on orders from President Ernest Bai Koroma.

The lockdown was called over fears the disease that has killed about 3,700 out of 11,800 people infected in Sierra Leone was making a comeback in certain parts of the country.

As the lockdown carries on through the weekend, nearly 26,000 volunteers are going door-to-door in a national search for hidden corpses and sick people, with particular focus on hotspots in the capital, as well as areas in the north and west of the country.

© 2015 AFP

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