January 5, 2009 / 5:42 PM / 11 years ago

Angola shuts off border with Congo to avoid Ebola

LUANDA (Reuters) - Angola closed part of its northeastern border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Monday to stop the contagious Ebola virus from spreading into the oil-rich African nation, the health minister said.

Jose Van-Dunem said Angolan authorities would ban all trade and movement of people from the diamond-rich province of Lunda Norte to the DRC where an outbreak of Ebola is suspected of infecting 40 people — including 13 deaths — since November.

“We are suspending all movement of people and trade with the DRC in the province of Lunda Norte,” he told journalists, adding that no cases of Ebola, which causes vomiting, diarrhea, and internal and external bleeding, had been diagnosed in Angola.

Angola’s military and police are on the look out for any possible signs of the Ebola virus in the northeastern provinces of Moxico, Malange, Uige and Luanda Sul because of their proximity to the DRC, he said.

The outbreak of the Ebola virus is believed to have taken place in the DRC’s Western Kasai province. The viral hemorrhagic fever, for which there is no known cure, kills more than 30 percent of its victims.

Reporting by Henrique Almeida

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