West African health ministers are calling for the end to travel restrictions imposed to combat the Ebola virus.
The ministers are following the advice of the World Health Organization, which said that the restrictions create food and supply shortages and harm efforts to contain the deadly virus.
The WHO says the West Africa outbreak could infect more than 20,000 people.
Ebola has already killed more than 1,500 of the 3,000 people infected in four countries.
WHO said it was important that airlines resume “vital” flights across the region, because travel bans were threatening efforts to beat the epidemic.
“This is not a West African issue or an African issue. This is a global health security issue,” WHO’s Assistant Director-General Bruce Aylward told reporters in Geneva.
It recommends that countries affected by Ebola should conduct exit screening amid concerns that the virus could spread to 10 more countries beyond the four now affected.
The number of deaths from Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria now stands at 1,552.
Announcing an action plan by the WHO to deal with the outbreak, Aylward said, “The actual number of cases may be two to four-fold higher than that currently reported” in some urban areas.
The plan calls for $489 million (£295million) to be spent over the next nine months, and requires 750 international workers and 12,000 national workers across West Africa.
On Thursday, Nigeria confirmed its first Ebola death outside Lagos, with an infected doctor in the oil hub of Port Harcourt dying from the disease.
Operations have not yet been affected in Africa’s biggest oil producer, but a spokesman for Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary said they were “monitoring the Ebola outbreak very closely”.
Health ministers from across West Africa attended an extraordinary meeting of the Economic Community of West African States in Ghana’s capital, Accra, to discuss how to prevent the virus from spreading.
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