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Kenya Airways newly acquired Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, with a sitting capacity of 400 passengers, arrives at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi October 25, 2013. REUTERS/Noor Khamis(reuters_tickers)
NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya Airways <KQNA.NR> will suspend flights to Liberia's capital Monrovia and Sierra Leone's capital Freetown due to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the company said on Saturday.
The suspension of the flights will start at midnight on Tuesday Aug. 19, Kenya Airways said in a statement. The carrier, which is part-owned by Air France-KLM <AIRF.PA>, flies a total of seven times a week to the two cities through Accra.
The company said it took the decision on the advice of Kenya's Ministry of Health, which is keen to prevent the importation of a case of Ebola into the country.
Kenya will not allow passengers from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone into the country starting next Tuesday, the private Citizen Television said on its website, quoting the Minister of Health James Macharia.
Health workers and Kenyans living in those countries will however still be allowed in after thorough screening, the report by Citizen quoted Macharia as saying.
The ministry earlier said four suspected cases of Ebola in Kenya had tested negative for the virus.
The first case was a Liberian national, travelling to India through Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta airport, while the second case was that of a Nigerian national who came to Kenya on Aug. 8, the ministry said in a statement.
A Zimbabwean who works in South Africa and was travelling to Sierra Leone made up the third case while a second Nigerian national was also admitted to a hospital with Ebola-like symptoms.
Kenya Airways said all passengers booked on the suspended flights would get a full refund. The airline has been ferrying medical staff, supplies and equipment for management of the outbreak in some West African states.
The airline did not say how much of its revenue is derived from the two suspended routes but outgoing Chief Executive Titus Naikuni said on Thursday all its West African destinations account for less than a quarter of annual revenue.
Its flights to Nigeria were not affected by the suspension.
Korean Airlines <003490.KS> suspended its flights to Nairobi last week citing the risk of Ebola.
The World Health Organization said on Friday that the death toll from the virus in West Africa had now risen to 1,145.
(Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Erica Billingham, Stephen Powell and Bernard Orr)