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Wednesday, 16 January, 2002, 19:12 GMT
New Ebola deaths in Gabon
Spraying Mekambo hospital
The medical experts left after arguments with the locals
Twenty-five people have now died from the deadly Ebola virus in Gabon and neighbouring Congo.

Mekambo, a jungle town about 750 kilometres (465 miles) east of the capital Libreville is now under quarantine.

An independent Member of Parliament for the Makokou constituency, which includes Mekambo, has accused the government of not doing enough to help those affected.

Michael Moussa told the BBC that the authorities had promised to alleviate the suffering of the villagers in the "Ebola-contaminated area".

No food

The villagers have been told not to go hunting in case they spread the virus to the rest of the population.

"They need food to eat, mattresses and blankets," said Mr Moussa.

The international team went by themselves to the villages and the villagers were offended

Michael Moussa
Makokou MP

The Ministry of Defence has sent soldiers to protect the population and ensure some safety.

Those who have had contact with the victims are being confined to their villages for 21 days of medical observation to make sure they do not come down with the disease.

A team of international medical experts says it will return to the remote Gabonese town in the next few days, after the government promised to address their security concerns.

Two weeks

Correspondents say that the team pulled out after failing to convince the villagers to abandon some of their traditions, which the medical experts deemed to be speeding the spread of the disease.

But Mr Moussa says that the team had left because they thought that "the national Ebola team could cope with the situation"

He denied reports that the expatriates were afraid for their life following threats from the villagers.

Scene from a previous Ebola outbreak
Villagers under quarantine are cut off from food supplies

"The international team went by themselves to the villages and the villagers were offended."

"There are some rituals which we perform when there is death in the family," he said.

The villagers did not want to wash the dead bodies of the Ebola victims in the presence of foreigners.

Ebola is one of the most deadly viral diseases and kills between 50 and 90% of those who contract it.

It spreads through bodily fluids and attacks internal organs, causing bloody diarrhoea and vomiting.

Victims usually die within two weeks of contracting the disease.

See also:

11 Jan 02 | Africa
Ebola medics blocked in Gabon
06 Jan 02 | Africa
Gabon moves to contain ebola
17 Dec 01 | Africa
UN medics tackle Ebola in Gabon
10 Dec 01 | Africa
Ebola confirmed in Gabon
27 Feb 01 | Africa
Uganda Ebola free
20 Oct 00 | Medical notes
Ebola and other tropical viruses
18 Oct 00 | Health
Africa's emerging virus threat
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