Ebola outbreak: Liberia suspends football

MONROVIA - Liberia has suspended all football activities in an effort to control the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

There was a risk of infection because football is a contact sport, the football association said.

The number of people killed by the virus in West Africa has now reached 672, the WHO says.

Ebola kills up to 90% of those infected, but patients have a better chance of survival if they receive early treatment.

It spreads through contact with an infected person's bodily fluids.

This is the deadliest outbreak ever, with the first case reported in Guinea in February. It then spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Lift restrictions

Last week, Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, reported its first case - that of Liberian government employee Patrick Sawyer who was visiting the main city, Lagos.

All officials who had direct or indirect contact with Mr Sawyer, 40, had been placed under "observatory surveillance" by health authorities, Liberia's finance ministry said.

It had also limited to four the number of people who can be in a lift at the same time, the ministry added.

Mr Sawyer was a senior official in the ministry, and died in Lagos five days after arriving in the city.

Nigerian authorities have so far identified 59 people who came into contact with Mr Sawyer and have tested 20, Lagos State Health Commissioner Jide Idris is quoted by the Associated Press (AP) news agency as saying.

The city's First Consultants Hospital, where Mr Sawyer was treated, has been temporary shut down, Reuters news agency reports.

"The private hospital was demobilised and the primary source of infection eliminated. The decontamination process in all the affected areas has commenced," it quotes Mr Idris as saying.

In a statement, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that 1,201 Ebola cases had been reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Of the 672 deaths, the highest number was in Guinea with 319, followed by Liberia with 249 and Sierra Leone with 224, it said.

"Between 21 and 23 July, 96 new cases and seven deaths were reported from Liberia and Sierra Leone. In Guinea, 12 new cases and five deaths were reported during the same period," the WHO added.

The BBC's Jonathan Paye Layleh in Liberia's capital, Monrovia, says that public awareness campaigns around Ebola have been stepped following the death at the weekend of renowned Liberian doctor Samuel Brisbane.

Liberia's ex-football star George Weah has joined the campaign to create greater awareness.

"If one person gets affected, 100 persons will get affected, if 100 persons get affected, one million people will get affected," Mr Weah said.

Many people are worried about the outbreak, and fewer people are going to restaurants and entertainment centres, our reporter says.

Most border crossings in Liberia have been closed to contain the outbreak and affected communities are being quarantined.

Ebola virus disease (EVD)

  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Fatality rate can reach 90%
  • 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 are considered to be virus' natural host

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