President Francois Hollande, the first Western leader to visit Ebola-stricken West Africa, warned on Friday against isolating one of the countries hit by the worst epidemic of the disease on record. During a brief visit to Guinea’s capital Conakry, Hollande was greeted by President Alpha Conde before visiting a hospital and meeting health workers battling the outbreak.
Hollande said the French people should be aware of what was happening in Guinea, the origin of the epidemic that has killed 1,200 Guineans and more than 5,600 people across West Africa. But he said they should also be vigilant. “Vigilant that Guinea is always open to the world, that it isn’t isolated, including during this phase, and that it can continue to ensure its development,” he said at a news conference at the end of the visit.
A number of countries, including several of Guinea’s neighbours, have introduced restrictions on travellers from Ebola-affected nations, despite warnings from the World Health Organization that such measures could do serious harm. Hollande’s words echoed those of Fanta Camara, an Ebola survivor he met earlier in the day. “It’s Ebola that we must isolate, not the country,” she said.