Ebola fear prompts South Korea university to cancel Nigerians' invitation

SEOUL Sun Aug 3, 2014 10:56pm EDT

SEOUL (Reuters) - A South Korean university rescinded an invitation for three Nigerians to attend a conference and a group of South Korean medical volunteers called off a trip to West Africa amid growing concerns about the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

The Duksung Women's University in Seoul said in a statement the school "politely withdrew" its invitation for three Nigerian students to attend an international conference that it is co-hosting with the United Nations starting from Monday.

Fear about a possible spread of the deadly virus had prompted a student from the university to post a plea on the country's presidential office Web site, asking for the cancellation of the entire event.

The university has said it was going ahead with the conference to be attended by students, including 28 from Africa.

Since February, more than 700 people in West Africa have died from Ebola, a hemorrhagic virus with a death rate of up to 90 percent of those infected. The fatality rate in the current epidemic is about 60 percent.

South Korea on Monday issued a special travel advisory asking people to refrain from visiting Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, while a group of South Korean medical volunteer workers scrapped an annual trip to African countries including Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana scheduled for August.

South Korean bloggers have posted online petitions, including one urging South Korean missionaries working in the region be barred from returning home.

West African leaders agreed last week to take stronger measures to try to bring the worst outbreak of Ebola under control and prevent it spreading outside the region, including steps to isolate rural communities ravaged by the disease.

An American doctor stricken with the deadly Ebola virus while in Liberia and brought to the United States for treatment in a special isolation ward is improving, the top U.S. health official said on Sunday.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Michael Perry)

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