Benin waiting for test results on two possible Ebola cases

Cotonou (AFP) - Benin said Thursday that it has placed two patients with Ebola-like symptoms in isolation and was waiting for test results to establish if the pair were infected with the deadly tropical disease.

Deputy chief of staff at the health ministry, Moufalilou Aboubakar, told journalists that the two patients were being treated as suspected cases of Ebola and that blood samples had been sent to foreign labs for conclusive results.

"We cannot say today that the virus is in Benin," Aboubakar told reporters. "The patients are in isolation and under observation pending the results of the ongoing tests."

If the patients are confirmed to have Ebola, Benin would become the fifth country in the region to be hit by the outbreak.

One patient was identified as a Nigerian man being treated at a hospital in the capital Porto-Novo.

The other is at hospital in the economic capital Cotonou.

Tiny Benin shares a border with Nigeria, which has recorded seven Ebola cases including two deaths in its largest city Lagos.

Cotonou is just a few hours drive from Lagos and there is significant traffic between the two cities each day, especially among traders.

The deadliest ever outbreak of Ebola is spreading quickly across west Africa.

Nearly 1,000 people have died from the virus since the start of the year, mostly in Liberia and Sierra Leone -- which have both imposed emergency measures to contain the spread -- and Guinea, where the outbreak began.