* South Africa, Chad announce new travel curbs
* Guinea President asks airlines to resume flights
* Food distribution begins in Monrovia slum
By Clair MacDougall
MONROVIA, Aug 21 African countries tightened
travel curbs on Thursday in an effort to contain the Ebola
outbreak, ignoring World Health Organization warnings that such
measures could heighten shortages of food and basic supplies in
In the West Point slum in Liberia's capital Monrovia, the
scene of violent clashes with the army on Wednesday after the
area was quarantined to curb the spread of Ebola, hundreds of
people jostled their way towards trucks loaded with water and
Police used canes to beat back some locals while aid workers
helped others dip their fingers in ink to record their ration.
"I ain't eat since yesterday. I have four young children and
none of us eat. I feel bad," said Hawa Saah, a pregnant
23-year-old resident of West Point, speaking in the pidgin
English common to this part of West Africa.
The World Food Programme says deliveries of basic supplies
to more than 1 million people across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra
Leone are intended to avoid a food crisis in those West African
countries, where more than 1,300 people have died from Ebola in
the worst outbreak of the disease in history.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations'
health agency, has repeatedly said that it does not recommend
travel or trade restrictions for Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea
and Nigeria - the countries affected by the epidemic that began
in March. Those countries are starting to suffer shortages of
fuel, food and basic supplies due to these measures, it warned
Still, Chad's Prime Minister Kalzeubet Payimi Deubet said on
Thursday his country would close its border with Nigeria to
prevent Ebola entering the country.
"This decision will have an economic impact on the region
but it is imperative for public health needs," he said.
Nigeria has reported 15 cases - the lowest number in the
four affected countries - and the WHO has expressed "cautious
optimism" that the spread can be stopped.
South Africa said on Thursday it was banning all travellers
from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from entering its
territory, barring its own citizens.
GUINEA APPEALS TO AIRLINES
The precautions follow measures from commercial airlines
such as Kenya Airways and Gambia Bird which have
suspended flights to affected countries, despite new testing
procedures at airports. The United States and several European
countries have also advised against non-essential travel to the
Guinea's President Alpha Conde met with airlines on
Wednesday in an attempt to persuade them to resume normal
service to the country. "No Guinean has left the country to
export Ebola elsewhere. Even the WHO has recognised that
Guinea's measures are sufficient," he said.
The WHO said on Thursday it would convene talks early next
month on potential treatments and vaccines to contain the
Ebola has struck hardest in countries with health care
systems ill-equipped to cope with an epidemic.
A ministry of health report in Liberia, the country where
infection is rising fastest, showed 60 new suspected, probable
and confirmed cases for just one day on Aug. 19. Two of them
were health workers.
In an indication of the strain on local populations,
security forces in Monrovia fired live rounds and tear gas on
Wednesday as crowds sought to break quarantine restrictions.
A 15-year-old-boy receiving treatment for gun shot wounds
later died, the medical director of the hospital treating him
said on Thursday.
The WHO said on Thursday that an hemorrhagic illness has
killed at least 70 people in Democratic Republic of Congo but
denied that the illness was Ebola.
Ireland's health service said it was testing the body of a
person, who had died after recently returning from Africa, for
the Ebola virus.
(Additional reporting by Madjiasra Nako in N'djamena, Saliou
Samb in Conakry, Joe Brock in Johannesburg; Writing by Emma
Farge; Editing by Susan Fenton)