Guinea-Bissau in nationwide anti-Ebola clean-up

Health care workers, wearing protective suits, leave a high-risk area at the French NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without borders) Elwa hospital on August 30, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia (AFP Photo/Dominique Faget)

Bissau (AFP) - Guinea-Bissau launched a nationwide hygiene drive on Saturday, declaring itself "on alert" after the announcement that the Ebola epidemic ravaging west Africa had spread to neighbouring Senegal.

The campaign will involve the cleaning and disinfection of public places "across the entire country" on the last Saturday of every month, Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Pereira's office said.

"Our country must be on alert because Ebola is already upon us," Pereira said at the launch of the campaign in Farim, a town near the country's northern border with Senegal.

Senegal confirmed its first case Friday in an epidemic that has killed more than 1,500 people across west Africa since the start of the year.

The case marked the first time a new country has been hit by the outbreak since July and was made public a day after the World Health Organization warned the number of infections is increasing rapidly.

In Guinea-Bissau's capital, Bissau, President Jose Mario Vaz spearheaded the clean-up outside the Bandim market, dressed in casual sportswear and holding a dust pan.

"The situation is serious and the threat is real. The entire nation must be mobilised into action because Ebola is already in the countries which we border," he told reporters.

Cabinet members were dispatched across the country to spread the message while soldiers fanned out across the capital with brooms, rakes and wheelbarrows.

All markets in the capital were closed and traders were encouraged to get involved in the clean-up.