BAMAKO/NOUAKCHOTT, Oct 25 (Reuters) – Mauritania has closed its border with Mali to prevent the spread of Ebola, officials said on Saturday, highlighting fears of further contagion in West Africa after a girl from Guinea died of the disease in Mali this week.
Earlier, Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said that his country would not close its border with Guinea despite the girl’s case, which may have exposed many to the disease as she travelled hundreds of kilometres through Mali – including a stop in the capital Bamako – on public transport.
Health experts are rushing teams to Mali to help try to contain the outbreak in the sixth West African nation to record Ebola this year. Senegal and Nigeria contained their outbreaks and been declared free of the disease but at least 4,922 people have died elsewhere, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Limame Ould Deddeh, chief medical officer in Kobenni, a town in eastern Mauritania near the Mali frontier, said the government in Nouakchott had sent orders to close all land crossings. Weekly markets had been suspended, he said.
A second Mauritanian official confirmed the move.
Mali’s first Ebola case was a two-year-old girl who died on Friday in Kayes, the main town in western Mali, near to the border with Mauritania and Senegal.
Kayes is a major transit point for trade with Senegal but a government official in Dakar said no decision had been taken yet on what measures would be taken.