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WHO: Ebola Toll Nears 7,000 in West Africa

Nearly 7,000 people have now died from Ebola in west Africa, with the latest report from the World Health Organization counting over 1,200 more deaths than in a toll given on Wednesday.

Data published by the U.N.'s health body late Friday showed that 16,169 people had been infected with Ebola and that 6,928 of them had died in the three countries at the center of the outbreak -- Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

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Beijing Bans Smoking in Public Spaces

Beijing has adopted a smoking ban in all indoor public spaces including workplaces and public transport.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported that the ban will go into effect in the capital city of 21 million people on June 1 and carry a fine of up to 200 yuan ($32.50). The Standing Committee of Beijing Municipal People's Congress passed the draft regulation Friday.

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Ebola Scare Boosts Business for U.S. Company

The Ebola scare has subsided in the United States, at least temporarily, but an Alabama manufacturer is still trying to catch up with a glut of orders for gear to protect against the disease.

Located in north Alabama, the family-owned Kappler Inc. typically gets only a few orders annually for the type of suit needed by health workers who are in contact with Ebola patients.

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Canada Pledges $440 Million to Vaccinate Poor Children

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday his government would provide support worth hundreds of millions of dollars towards life-saving vaccines for children around the world.

Harper made the announcement at an event with Senegalese Prime Minister Mohammed Dionne at a clinic in Dakar to mark the introduction in Senegal of a vaccine for rotavirus -- a virus that causes diarrhea in children so severe it can be fatal.

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British-Led Scientists Trial 15-Minute Ebola Test in Guinea

British scientists announced trials on a 15-minute Ebola test in Guinea as French President Francois Hollande became the first Western leader to visit a country devastated by the epidemic.

The prototype is six times faster than current tests and aims to speed up diagnosis, the London-based global research charity Wellcome Trust and Britain's Department for International Development (DFID) said in a statement.

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British-Led Scientists Trial 15-Minute Ebola Test in Guinea

British-funded researchers are to conduct trials in Guinea on a 15-minute Ebola test, the Wellcome Trust and UK government said in a joint statement on Friday.

The prototype is six times faster than current tests and aims to speed up diagnosis, the London-based global research charity and the Department for International Development (DFID) said.

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Eight Dead from Lassa Fever in Benin, 170 under Observation

Eight people have died in the west African nation of Benin from an outbreak of Lassa fever, while 170 others have been placed under observation, officials said Thursday.

Fourteen suspected cases of the virus have been identified, with two confirmed and eight deaths in the small country bordering Nigeria, said a joint statement from the WHO, Benin's health ministry and UNICEF.

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Italy Bans Novartis Flu Vaccine after Suspicious Deaths

Italy suspended the use of a flu vaccine made by Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis on Thursday amid fears it may have caused three deaths.

The Italian Pharmaceutical Agency (AIFA) banned the use of two batches of the Fluad vaccine after three people who had received it died and a fourth was taken seriously ill.

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South African Disease Lab on Frontline of Ebola Fight

South African professor Janusz Paweska hesitates for a moment as he describes his work trip to the heart of the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone.

"Obviously we had to touch the tubes," he says. "I wonder if I should tell you but I opened them with my hands -- I opened 1,400 tubes of blood with my hands."

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WHO: Global Ebola Toll Rises to 5,689

The World Health Organization said Thursday that the global death toll from the Ebola virus had increased to 5,689 out of a total of 15,935 cases of infection, mainly in western Africa.

The earlier WHO toll from last Friday gave a death toll of 5,459 and 15,351 cases.

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