WHO / Tarik Jasarevic / Handout via Reuters

Ebola death toll hits 932 as Saudi man being tested dies

Nigerian nurse is the second to die of the disease in that country, as fears mount about further spread of deadly virus

Saudi Arabia's Health Ministry says a man who was being tested for the Ebola virus and was in critical condition in an isolation ward has died.

The Health Ministry said the Saudi man, who tested negative for dengue fever, died Wednesday morning in a hospital in the western city of Jiddah. The ministry has submitted samples from the man to an international reference lab to test for Ebola.

The 40-year-old man was hospitalized after showing symptoms of a viral hemorrhagic fever following a recent trip to Sierra Leone, one of the West African countries where an outbreak of Ebola has sickened about 1,700 people.

Click for the latest news and analysis on the epidemic in West Africa.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday that the death toll from the epidemic in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria has reached 932. The West African outbreak is the worst Ebola epidemic ever recorded. There is no known cure or vaccine for the virus, symptoms of which include vomiting, diarrhea and internal and external bleeding.

Meanwhile, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf declared a 90-day state of emergency in response to the outbreak, saying the scale of the epidemic represented a threat to state security.

"The government and people of Liberia require extraordinary measures for the very survival of our state and for the protection of the lives of our people," she said in an official statement.

The U.N. agency also announced that it would convene a panel of medical ethicists next week to explore the possibility of treating those in West Africa infected with Ebola with an experimental treatment that has been used on a limited basis.

Also on Wednesay, a Nigerian nurse became the second person to die of the disease in that country, health officials said. Five other Nigerians have been confirmed to be infected.

The nurse, who died in Nigeria's largest city of Lagos, had treated a Liberian-American man, Patrick Sawyer, who flew into Lagos last month and later died of Ebola, Nigerian Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said, according to a statement. 

The five people with the disease had direct contact with Sawyer. Authorities are now following up with others who had contact with him to see if they are showing Ebola symptoms.

Chukwu said the five confirmed Ebola patients are being treated in isolation in Lagos, also sub-Saharan Africa's largest city with 21 million people. The death of the unidentified nurse is a particularly worrisome development because of Lagos's population size.

Saudi Arabia announced earlier this year that it would not issue pilgrimage visas from West African countries to counter any further spread of the disease.

Different types of viral hemorrhagic fevers have been found in the kingdom, but the ministry says no case of Ebola has ever been detected there.       

Meanwhile, Spain's Defense Ministry said a medically-equipped Airbus 310 is ready to fly to Liberia to repatriate a Spanish missionary priest who has also tested positive for the Ebola virus. The ministry said Wednesday preparations for the flight are being finalized but it is not yet known at what time the plane would take off.

The Spanish missionary's evacuation follows the evacuation this week of two infected American health care workers from Liberia for treatment in an isolation unit in Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Both of the Americans are showing signs of improvement after being given the experimental treatment that the WHO plans to discuss early next week. 

Al Jazeera and wire services

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