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EBOLA

Suspected Ebola case near Paris a false alarm

UPDATED: A building belonging to French health authorities was cordoned off on the outskirts of Paris on Thursday after a suspected case of Ebola was reported. Around sixty people were effectively quarantined but authorities later confirmed it was a false alarm.

Suspected Ebola case near Paris a false alarm
The suspected Ebola case was reported in th suburb of Cergy-Pontoise, to the north west of Paris. Image: Google Maps

LATEST: 'Probable' Ebola case probed at Paris hospital

A building in the suburb of Cergy-Pointoise, to the north west of Paris was cordoned off on Thursday after the alarm was ras raised that at least one person had fallen ill with 'Ebola-like symptoms".

It was reported the sick person had recently visited Guinea, one of the countries in West Africa hit badly by an Ebola outbreak that has killed thousands.

The prefect of Val-d'Oise Jean-Luc Nevache said the building was cordoned off so checks could be carried out and the move was made "as a precaution".

Accordng to RTL radio, around 60 people, some of whom recently visited Guinea, were effectively quarantined and a security cordon was set up around the building. Those inside were asked to remain where they were.

However later in the evening Nevache confirmed that the "suspicion was over" and the workers were allowed to leave.

Le Parisien newspaper reported that the alarm was raised when one of four people "of African origin" who had recently visited Gunea fell ill in the building and two others showed flu-like symptoms.

Those four were kept separate while medical tests were carried out to determine whether fears they had been infected by Ebola proved true, but authorities later confirmed the tests were negative.

France is on high alert to prevent the spread of Ebola. The government insists that it is ready to cope in the case of an outbreak but none have been reported up until now.

A French nurse who contacted Ebola in West Africa was recently cured of the disease after returning to France for treatment.

A Spanish nurse, who contacted the disease after treating an Ebola patient remains in a critical condition in Madrid.

France announced on Thursday that it will step up health checks at airports in the West African countries hit by the virus to try and prevent it spreading.

Fears are high that it is only a matter of time before someone is infected with the disease in France, with scientists from the UK suggesting that there was a 75 percent chance Ebola will arrive in France before the end of the month.

More to follow

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HOLLANDE

Ebola: Hollande to be first leader to visit region

French President Francois Hollande will on Friday begin a visit to Guinea, making him the first Western leader to travel to a country hit hard by the deadly Ebola virus.

Ebola: Hollande to be first leader to visit region
Guinean Red Cross workers wearing protective suits carry the corpse of a victim of Ebola in Macenta. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

Guinea has already lost 1,200 people to the disease which has killed over 5,600 in total and infected almost 16,000, mainly in west Africa, according to World Health Organization figures.

The visit, the first by a French president since 1999, is a bid to deliver "a message of solidarity" to Guinea as it battles the worst outbreak of Ebola since the virus was discovered in 1976.

France has pledged 100 million euros ($125 million) as a contribution in the fight against Ebola, focusing its efforts on Guinea.

The money is due to help with financing several care centres in Guinea as well as funding 200 beds, some of which are reserved for health workers caring for the sick.

France has also pledged to set up two training centres for health workers, one in France and one in Guinea. In addition, French biotechnology companies will set up rapid diagnostic tests in Africa.

During the trip, Hollande was due to visit healthcare facilities, participate in a round-table discussion on Ebola as well as hold talks with his Guinean counterpart Alpha Conde.

After the one-day trip to Guinea, Hollande travels to Dakar to take part in a summit of French-speaking leaders that is likely to be dominated by the Ebola crisis as well as the recent unrest in Burkina Faso.

The OIF (International Organisation of French-Speakers) is expected to appoint a successor to former Senegalese leader Abdou Diouf.

However, there is no clear front-runner from the five main candidates, with a French government source telling AFP: "Anything could happen, including a last-minute candidate."

The OIF was founded in 1970 with the ambition to be a "French Commonwealth", a rival to the mainly English-speaking group of countries that are predominantly former British colonies.

But it is battling to find its relevance and retain its funding at a time when many governments find their budgets under pressure. France reduced its funding for the group by 20 percent this year.

French is currently spoken by close to 274 million people, with more than 50 percent of those in Africa — the 5th most spoken language in the world, behind Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish and Arabic or Hindu depending on how it is calculated.

By 2050, the percentage of French speakers based in Africa is due to rise to 85 percent, with 700 million Francophones expected on the continent by then.

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