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Christmas has been cancelled in Guinea's capital and Sierra Leone

It’s in a bid to combat the spread of the Ebola virus.

Image: Rebecca Blackwell via Press Association Images

GUINEA’S CAPITAL CONAKRY has followed Sierra Leone’s example in banning public Christmas and New Year celebrations to combat the spread of the Ebola virus.

Only about 10% of Guinea’s predominantly Muslim population is Christian. But like elsewhere in Africa most people join in year-end celebrations, whatever their beliefs.

“Large-scale gatherings in public places are suspended for the moment,” Conakry governor Soriba Sorel Camara announced in a statement.

“Beaches will remain closed” and firecrackers and fireworks are also banned, he added.

Camara appealed to residents to “refrain from anything” that could compromise efforts to contain the spread of Ebola.

That meant avoiding “all gatherings in markets, bus stations, ferry landing stages, hospitals and the airport,” he said.

Guinea is one of three west African countries at the epicentre of the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, together with neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Nearly 6,900 people have died since the first case was recorded in southern Guinea a year ago, 99% of them in west Africa.

Sierra Leone, which overtook Liberia recently as the country with the highest number of Ebola infections, last week announced a nationwide ban on public Christmas and New Year festivities.

© – AFP 2014

Read: The Ebola Fighters are TIME’s 2014 Person of the Year>

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