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New restrictions in Kenya for travelers amid Ebola fears

By Lillian Leposo, CNN
updated 5:17 PM EDT, Sat August 16, 2014
U.S. President Barack Obama hugs Ebola survivor Nina Pham in the Oval Office of the White House on Friday, October 24. Pham, one of two Texas nurses who were diagnosed with the virus, was declared Ebola-free after being treated at a hospital in Bethesda. U.S. President Barack Obama hugs Ebola survivor Nina Pham in the Oval Office of the White House on Friday, October 24. Pham, one of two Texas nurses who were diagnosed with the virus, was declared Ebola-free after being treated at a hospital in Bethesda.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kenya Airways temporarily suspends flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone
  • Kenya also temporary denies entry by passengers from Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia
  • Health professionals and Kenyan citizens are exempt from temporary ban
  • But the health workers and citizens will have to undergo extensive screening

Nairobi (CNN) -- Kenya Airways will suspend flight operations to Liberia and Sierra Leone, the latest airline to curb flights because of the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The suspension is temporary, and the airline will continue operating flights to Nigeria and Ghana, Kenya Airways said.

The Kenyan government announced other restrictions, saying it is temporarily suspending entry into Kenya of passengers who have passed through Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

Health professionals and Kenyan citizens returning home from those countries will be the exceptions, but will have to undergo extensive screening and close monitoring, said James Macharia, Cabinet secretary of the Kenya Ministry of Health.

The measures come as the World Health Organization warned this week that the magnitude of the Ebola crisis in West Africa is "vastly" underestimated.

Ebola has infected at least 2,127 people in Nigeria, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since the outbreak began this year.

Of the victims, 1,145 have died as of Wednesday, according to the WHO.

"The outbreak is expected to continue for some time," the WHO said in a statement this week. "Staff at the outbreak sites see evidence that the numbers of reported cases and deaths vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak."

Though the United Nations agency did not provide an estimate of unreported cases, it said it's teaming up with the affected countries to gather more intelligence from the ground.

It's also working with other agencies, including the World Food Program, to feed about 1 million people quarantined in villages in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

As experts scramble to contain the outbreak, health officials are considering the use of experimental treatments and vaccines, since no there is no proven cure for the deadly virus.

Ebola spreads through contact with organs and bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, urine and other secretions of infected people. It causes viral hemorrhagic fever, which affects multiple organ systems.

Early symptoms include sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat. They later progress to vomiting, diarrhea, impaired kidney and liver function, and sometimes internal and external bleeding.

WHO: Evidence shows Ebola crisis 'vastly' underestimated

9 things to know about the Ebola virus

Report: Ebola outbreak probably started with 2-year-old

CNN's Michael Martinez contributed to this report.

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