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Ebola clinic attacked by fearful locals

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Medical charity Medicins Sans Frontieres has suspended work at an Ebola treatment centre in southeast Guinea after it came under attack from locals who believed health workers had introduced the deadly disease to the area.

As the death toll from the Guinea outbreak reached 95 people, MSF revealed it had put a ‘patient awareness team’ in place to try and inform locals about the virus, though emergency coordinator Henry Gray said it was “very difficult” to simultaneously inform locals while trying to do everything possible to halt the outbreak.

MSF reported that locals threw stones at buildings and vehicles at a treatment centre in Macenta under the mistaken impression the charity had brought in the disease, forcing operations to be suspended, though no-one was injured in the attack.

In a promising development, several patients being treated for the virus have been discharged, and the World Health Organisation reported that the fatality rate in the Guinea outbreak was less than 63 per cent – well below the 90 per cent death rate typically attributed to the virus.

While the outbreak appears to be concentrated in Guinea, the WHO reported seven suspected cases in neighbouring Liberia, as well as three in Mali. Up to 15 people in Sierra Leone who have died from the disease are thought to have caught it while in Guinea.

MSF has 60 international staff working in Guinea to help contain the epidemic, and has flown in more than 40 tonnes of medical supplies.

Child charity Plan International said the appearance of the disease in the Guinean capital Conakry marked a new and dangerous phase of the outbreak, with more than two million people living in “very challenging” conditions in the city, including its slums.

Plan said it was the first time the virus had appeared in the country, and locals were fearful.

Adrian Rollins

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