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Africa

France sends anti-Ebola team to Guinea, crowd attacks aid group

media Doctors Without Borders unloads emergency medical supplies in Conakry to fight Ebola Reuters/Saliou Samb

France has sent teams of doctors to the airport of Guinea-Conakry to monitor passengers to Paris for the deadly Ebola virus. Guinea's government appealed for calm on Saturday after a crowd stormed a centre run by French-based chariuty, Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

Teams from NGOs are watching out for possible Ebloa cases at Conakry airport, Social Affairs Minister Marisol Touraine announced at Paris's Charles De Gaulle aiport on Saturday.

No cases have been identified in France, she stressed, but travel between west Africa and France is common and the French authorities want to do the "maximum possible" to prevent its arrival.

Guinea's health authorities have reported 137 possible or confirmed cases of Ebola since the beginning of the year and 86 have proved fatal.

Suspected cases have also been identified in Mali, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

MSF on Saturday suspended treatment in Macenta in south-eastern Guinea on Friday after a crowd attacked one of its centres, inspired by a rumour that Ebola had been imported into the country by foreigners.

A government appealed for calm and declared that "only the recognition of the existence of the disease will help in the fight against it".

"The contribution of (MSF) and all international organisations that are supporting Guinea in the fight against the pandemic is invaluable and has helped so far to contain the disease," an official statement said. "Without these partners, the disease would not be under control today."

MSF has 52 international experts working alongside Guinean staff in Conakry and the provincial towns of Gueckedou and Macenta, in the south where the outbreak is most serious.

"MSF's head of mission is in Gueckedou to meet with the regional governer, senior health officials and local community leaders. We hope to restart our work as soon as possible," spokesperson Sam Taylor told the AFP news agency on Saturday.

A rare but extremely dangerous virus, Ebola is historically rooted in central Africa and has never before spread amongst humans in the west of the continent.

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