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Zaire Puts Journalists In Quarantine

The Zairian government told journalists who visited an area infected by the deadly Ebola virus to turn themselves in Monday to be quarantined for 28 days.

Lonyangela Bopenda BoNkumu, secretary-general of the Ministry of Health, said at a news conference that 25 foreign journalists should turn themselves in “in the interest of international health.”

He said the quarantine effort should not be seen as arrest but as a responsible attempt by the Zairian government to control the spread of the virus.

Bopenda Bo-Nkumu would not specify what would happen if the journalists did not comply. But in an official statement, an international committee overseeing the control of the Ebola outbreak urged the Zairian government to use all available means to enforce its decision.

A group of 25 foreign journalists chartered an airplane on Sunday to fly to Kikwit, 370 miles east of the capital Kinshasa. They had obtained the necessary paperwork from the government authorizing their trip.

While in Kikwit, some of the journalists visited Kikwit General Hospital, where the epidemic broke out eight weeks ago.