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Oct 21, 8:19 AM EDT

Ebola cases rise sharply in western Sierra Leone


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FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) -- The number of people infected with Ebola in western Sierra Leone, on the other side of the country from where the first cases emerged months ago, is soaring with more than 20 deaths daily, the government and local media reported Tuesday.

New confirmed cases of Ebola that emerged Monday in two Ebola zones in and around the capital Freetown numbered 49, the National Ebola Response Center reported Tuesday. There are 851 total confirmed cases in the two zones, called Western Area Urban and Western Area Rural, the center said. But there were no new cases in the eastern districts of Kenema and Kailahun, which previously had been an epicenter of the outbreak and where there have been a total of 1,012 confirmed cases.

There was no immediate official explanation of what has caused the drop in reported new cases in those eastern areas. But Margaret Harris, the World Health Organization's spokeswoman in Sierra Leone, said: "Definitely too early to say its been beaten there."

A local newspaper suggested Tuesday that due to the increased number of cases in the west authorities quarantine the city of Waterloo, near the capital and located in Western Area Rural. The World Food Program over the weekend delivered emergency food rations to people there.

"The growing fear has left the public with no choice but to call on the Government for Waterloo to be quarantined as was done to other places including Kailahun, Kenema, Bombali, Port Loko and Moyamba Districts," the Exclusive newspaper said.

The west African nations of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea - where the outbreak first emerged 10 months ago - have been hit hard by Ebola with more than 4,500 deaths, according to WHO estimates. A few cases have also emerged in the United States and Spain, and on Tuesday the east African nation of Rwanda was singling out travelers from all five countries for special treatment.

A Rwandan Ministry of Health document says all passengers from the U.S. and Spain will have their temperatures taken upon arrival. If the passenger has a fever he or she is denied entry. If there is no fever, the visitors still must report their health condition daily to authorities.

The U.S. Embassy in Rwanda said Tuesday that it urges Americans who may have a fever or who have traveled to Ebola countries "to weigh carefully whether travel to Rwanda at this time is prudent."

"Please note neither the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs nor the U.S. Embassy have authority over quarantine issues and cannot prevent a U.S. citizen from being quarantined should local health authorities require it," the embassy said.

No Ebola cases have emerged in Rwanda.

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AP reporters Maria Cheng in London and Edmund Kagire in Kigali, Rwanda contributed to this report.

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