Security forces in Liberia’s capital have deployed to enforce a quarantine in a large slum area in Monrovia in order to contain the spread of Ebola.
The isolation of West Point and a night-time curfew in the city are the latest anti-Ebola measures to be ordered by the president.
Since the beginning of the year, more than 1,200 people have died of the virus in four West African countries.
In Nigeria, a top Lagos doctor has just died of the virus.
That brings the number of people who have died of Ebola in Nigeria to five, the health ministry said.
Colleagues said consultant Stella Ameyo Adadevo was the first medic to order that a sick patient from Liberia be tested for Ebola when he was admitted in July.
“We owe her a lot; she managed the situation like a thorough professional that she was. She had helped Nigeria to contain the epidemic in her own way,” Akin Osibogun, the chief medical director at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, told Nigeria’s Premium Times newspaper.
Officials says five people have recovered from the virus in Nigeria and have been discharged from hospital in Lagos. Two are still being treated.
Since the outbreak spread to Nigeria in July, several airlines have stopped flights to the region.
Kenyan travel restrictions have now taken effect, blocking travellers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – the three countries most affected by the outbreak.
According to the AFP news agency, some Air France flight crews are refusing to board planes bound for Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria because of fears over the outbreak.
Analysis: Umaru Fofana, BBC News, Sierra Leone
Fighting the myths and fear surrounding Ebola is as tough as fighting the disease itself. They range from the bizarre to the ridiculous: Some see it as the culmination of some bio warfare gone awry; others say it is a cannibalistic ritual.
In the latest flashpoint – some people in Lunsar, about 120km (74 miles) east of the capital, Freetown, say the new cases are not Ebola patients at all. In fact, they insist that witches are flying around the country in aircraft and one of these crashed, causing casualties.
All this, and the notion that an Ebola patient cannot recover, have led many sick people to stay at home, hoping they have something else. This is despite the fact that about 30% of patients have recovered.
The authorities have been encouraging those who become ill to report to hospitals for testing and treatment, if needed. But as the messengers are distrusted, the message is not getting through.
Last week, the WHO reiterated that the risk of transmission of Ebola during air travel was low as the virus was not airborne.
It is transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of an infected person. Initial flu-like symptoms can lead to external haemorrhaging from areas such as eyes and gums, and internal bleeding which can cause organ failure.
‘Coast guard patrols’
There is no known cure for Ebola, but the WHO has ruled that untested drugs can be used to treat patients in light of the scale of the current outbreak – the deadliest to date.
The experimental drug ZMapp has been used to treat several people who contracted Ebola in Liberia. Two US aid workers and three doctors in Liberia have reportedly responded well to the treatment, though a Spanish priest died despite taking the drug.
The US pharmaceutical company that makes the drug says it has for now run out of it, so the only way to stop the current outbreak is to isolate the victims and those who have come into contact with them.
The BBC’s Jonathan Paye-Layleh in Monrovia says security forces are patrolling in West Point, the country’s largest slum which sprawls along the Atlantic coast.
Eyewitnesses report seeing coast guards boats monitoring the coastline, he says.
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)
- Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
- Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has about 55%
- Incubation period is two to 21 days
- There is no vaccine or cure
- Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
- Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’ natural host
A mob attacked a health centre in West Point on Saturday. Seventeen suspected Ebola patients went missing during the attack, but they have since been traced and are receiving treatment.
“We have been unable to control the spread due to continued denials, cultural varying practices, disregard for the advice of health workers and disrespect for the warnings by the government,” President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said on Tuesday evening.
Because the disease had spread widely in densely populated areas of Monrovia and its environs, the additional sanctions to curb Ebola’s spread were needed, she said.
Dolo Town, about 40km (25 miles) from the capital, has also been put under quarantine, “under full security watch”.
“This means there will be no movements in and out of those areas,” she said.
The president also said that all entertainment centres were to be closed down and video centres were to shut by 18:00 local time, although she did not specify which areas these measures applied to or if they were countrywide.