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Guyana says it is barring citizens from four African countries to fend off Ebola

GEORGETOWN (Reuters) - Guyana said on Thursday it has denied entry to citizens from four Ebola-hit West African nations for the past five weeks, in an effort to stop the disease from entering the small South American nation.

Guyana stopped issuing visas to citizens from Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria on Sept. 9, said Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkette.

In fact, the country may have little to worry about in the case of Nigeria.

The worst outbreak on record of Ebola has killed nearly 4,500 people, mostly in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. Nigeria was affected - one traveler from Liberia triggered an outbreak in which eight people died, most of them health workers, before it could be contained.

But the most populous country in Africa was able to stop the spread. The World Health Organization said this week that Nigeria, along with Senegal, could be declared Ebola-free within days, once it completes a 42-day period with no new cases.

In addition to the visa denials in Guyana, health officials will screen anyone who traveled to those four African countries in the six weeks prior to their arrival in Guyana.

Guyanese health services are unable to test for Ebola, but around 1,600 health workers are being trained to detect cases, the government added.

Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Frances Kerry

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