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Liberia imposes strict curfew as Ebola crisis grows

MONROVIA, Liberia--Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf imposed a nighttime curfew from Wednesday and quarantined two affected neighborhoods in a bid to stem the Ebola epidemic rampaging through West Africa.

“Commencing Wednesday, August 20 there will be a curfew from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am (2100 to 0600 GMT),” Sirleaf said in a radio address late Tuesday.

“All entertainment centers are to be closed. All video centers are to be closed at 6:00 pm,” she ordered.

The new quarantine areas include Monrovia's West Point slum.

Earlier, Liberia's Information Minister Lewis Brown announced the return of 17 missing Ebola patients, who had fled a medical facility in West Point on Saturday after it was attacked by club-wielding youths.

Their disappearance had raised fears of a nightmare scenario of people with the highly contagious disease wandering the city, where unburied corpses have lain abandoned in the streets.

In Nigeria, meanwhile, a senior doctor who treated the country's first Ebola patient has died, taking the death toll in Africa's most populous country to five, health minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said on Tuesday.

Chukwu said Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer, 40, was “the most senior who participated in the management of the (first Ebola) patient” in the country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the tropical virus had killed 84 people in just three days, a surge that has pushed the overall death toll from the West African outbreak to 1,229.

Liberia Suffering Biggest Death Toll

Liberia has suffered the biggest toll, 466 deaths from 834 diagnosed cases.

Guinea has recorded 543 cases and 394 deaths, Sierra Leone 848 cases and 365 deaths.

But, in a glimmer of hope, Brown said three doctors in Liberia who had been given the experimental U.S.-made drug ZMapp were responding to the treatment.

The U.N.'s new pointman on Ebola, David Nabarro, will travel to West Africa Wednesday hoping to shore up health services in the four countries hit by the worst-ever outbreak of the virus.

The British physician will fly to Dakar late Wednesday before heading to Monrovia, Freetown, Conakry and Abuja, accompanied by Keiji Fukuda from the World Health Organization.

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