ACCRA (Reuters) - The United Nations will use Ghana as a base for supplies bound for countries stricken by an Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 1,550 people in West Africa, the Ghanaian presidency said in a statement on Friday.
More than 3,000 people have been infected since the virus was detected in the remote jungles of southeastern Guinea early this year. It quickly spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, and Senegal reported its first case on Friday.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon had a telephone conversation on Friday evening with Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama, who agreed to let international agencies use Ghana's capital Accra as a base for air lifting supplies and personnel to affected countries, the statement said.
Mahama chairs the West African regional grouping, ECOWAS, which has set up a solidarity fund to fight the deadly disease.
"Using Accra as the logistics and coordination centre would therefore open a vital corridor to get urgently needed supplies and health personnel into the affected countries and areas," the statement said.
Regular international commercial flights to the affected countries have been suspended, making it difficult for supplies to reach them.
The statement said the UN and local authorities would work closely to put in place appropriate screening and prevention measures to avoid any adverse effects on Ghana as a result of the international operations.
The UN will also help review and strengthen Ghana's Ebola preparedness as steps are taken to prevent the virus from spreading to that country, according to the statement.
(Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by Toni Reinhold)