MONROVIA, Liberia — Liberian authorities expanded Ebola treatment centers in the capital Saturday to cope with increasing numbers of patients, while two more airlines announced they were halting flights to the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the deepening crisis.
Kenya Airways and regional carrier Gambia Bird join a number of other airlines in temporarily canceling flights to avoid transmitting the disease beyond the four countries already affected in West Africa: Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria.
The Kenya Airways flights will stop midnight Tuesday, said Titus Naikuni, the airline's CEO. Gambia Bird said it had stopped flying to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.
Health experts have warned that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could last another six months. At least 1,145 people have died across Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria, and that might "vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak," the World Health Organization says.
New figures released Friday show that Liberia has recorded more deaths, 413, than any of the other affected countries.
On Saturday, a newly expanded, 34-bed Ebola treatment center was opened at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center in Monrovia, health officials said. Another treatment center in the southeastern outskirts of Monrovia was expanded from 80 beds to 120. That center will eventually be further expanded to take 300 patients.
Isolating patients is critical to slowing the spread of the disease.