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S Korea invitations withdrawn on Ebola fears

University rescinds conference invitation for Nigerians amid concerns about spread of deadly virus from West Africa.

Last updated: 04 Aug 2014 05:18
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Since February, more than 700 people in West Africa have died from Ebola [Reuters]

A South Korean university has rescinded an invitation for three Nigerians to attend a conference and a group of South Korean medical volunteers has called off a trip to West Africa amid growing concerns about the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

The Duksung Women's University in Seoul said in a statement the school "politely withdrew" its invitation for three Nigerian students to attend an international conference that it is co-hosting with the UN starting from Monday.

Fear about a possible spread of the deadly virus had prompted a student from the university to post a plea on the country's presidential office web site, asking for the cancellation of the entire event.

The university has said it was going ahead with the conference to be attended by students, including 28 from Africa.

Since February, more than 700 people in West Africa have died from Ebola, a hemorrhagic virus with a death rate of up to 90 percent of those infected. 

South Korea on Monday issued a special travel advisory asking people to refrain from visiting Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, while a group of South Korean medical volunteer workers scrapped an annual trip to African countries including Ivory Coast and Ghana that was scheduled for August.

South Korean bloggers have posted online petitions, including one urging South Korean missionaries working in the region to be barred from returning home.

West African leaders agreed last week to take stronger measures to try to bring the worst outbreak of Ebola under control and prevent it spreading outside the region, including steps to isolate rural communities ravaged by the disease.

A group of protesters in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, demonstrated against the spread of the outbreak on Sunday, calling on authorities to remove the bodies of those killed more quickly.

Borders on red alert

Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris, reporting from Abuja, said soldiers had been deployed in Nigeria to make sure the bodies of victims were buried immediately, amid warnings of eating meat from wild animals such as bats and monkeys.

Nigeria, which diagnosed its first case of the virus only last week, has placed all of its ports and borders on red alert.

Earlier, on Saturday, the Dubai carrier Emirates became the first major international airline to impose a ban in response to the outbreak by suspending flights to Guinea.

Also, in line with guidelines from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the World Health Organisation, several major airlines and international airports have started health screening passengers on flights from West Africa.

But IATA said on Thursday the WHO was not recommending travel restrictions or border closures, and there would be a low risk to other passengers if an infected person flew.

Nigeria's largest airline Arik Air, which flies to a limited number of international destinations including London, has stopped flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Pan-African airline Asky was suspended by Nigeria's civil aviation authorities for bringing the first Ebola case to the country's largest city, Lagos.

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