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EBOLA SCARE CLOSES EMERGENCY ROOM

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Fearing that two seriously ill siblings who had recently come from Africa might have been suffering from the deadly and highly contagious Ebola virus, officials shut down North Central Bronx Hospital's emergency room for more than two hours Sunday afternoon when the children were brought there for treatment.

It turned out that the children actually had severe cases of malaria, which is usually transmitted by mosquitoes, said Fred Winters, a health department spokesman. One of the children with the disease, a 10-year-old boy, died at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.The two children had come with their parents a week ago from the West African nation of Guinea. The dead boy's 13-year-old sister remained in critical condition in the intensive care unit of Montefiore Medical Center Sunday night.

Before malaria was diagnosed, hospital workers spent two very jittery hours unsure what, if any, threat was present in their hospital.

Winters said that when hospital workers learned the children were from Africa, they immediately suspected they could have been infected with Ebola.

No one was allowed to enter or leave the emergency room after it was closed. The siblings were kept in isolation, and patients were rerouted to other area hospitals.