Lebanon suspends permits for Ebola-hit states

Beirut - Lebanon's labour ministry said on Friday it has suspended the issuance of work permits to residents of several African countries hit by an outbreak of the Ebola virus.

In a statement carried by Lebanon's National News Agency, the ministry said that "as a result of fears about public health and to prevent an Ebola epidemic, the labour ministry is no longer receiving work permit requests from residents of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia".

An official at the ministry told AFP that the number of workers affected by the measures was limited and the decision was taken as "a precautionary measure".

There is no vaccine for the highly-contagious disease, and the current outbreak has claimed nearly 730 lives and infected more than 1 300 people since the beginning of the year.

Ebola causes severe muscular pains, fever, headaches and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding.

It has killed around two-thirds of those it has infected since its emergence in 1976, although the death rate in the current outbreak is lower, at 55%.