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India postpones Africa summit over Ebola outbreak

21 September 2014, 09:04

New Delhi - The deadly Ebola outbreak in west Africa has forced India to postpone plans for a December summit in New Delhi attended by representatives of more than 50 African nations, officials said on Saturday.

The spread of the virus, which has killed more than 2 600 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone this year, made it "logistically difficult given the public health guidelines to manage" the Third India-Africa Forum Summit, a foreign ministry official said.

India had been expecting nearly 1 000 delegates including ministers, government officials and business leaders for the meeting on 4 December, expected to be one of the biggest international events in the country in years.

The government will work with the African Union on rescheduling the trade-focused summit for 2015, foreign ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told a media briefing.

Also Read: ECOWAS commends Nigerian Govt with Ebola
The Ebola outbreak has cut a swathe through entire villages at the epicentre and prompted warnings from the World Bank of possible economic catastrophe.

Ebola fever can fell its victims within days, causing severe muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and - in some cases - unstoppable internal and external bleeding.

India's airports went on alert in August to screen arrivals from west Africa as part of measures to prevent an outbreak of Ebola in the country of 1.25 billion people.

Also Read: Sierra Leone begins 3-day Ebola lockdown

India's Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has said the country has "put in operation the most advanced surveillance and tracking systems" for the virus.

But health experts have voiced worries that India's already overburdened health services could not cope with an Ebola outbreak.

They say setting up adequate isolation and containment facilities and equipping medical personnel with protective gear would be beyond the country's capacity.

US President Barack Obama announced the deployment of troops to west Africa earlier this week, appealing for urgent global action to prevent the virus from spreading "exponentially".



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