Sierra Leone in new shutdown to stamp out Ebola

Six million people to be confined to their homes for three days as West African nation brings Ebola under control.

    Ebola has infected nearly 12,000 people in Sierra Leone, more than in any other country in the West African region [EPA]
    Ebola has infected nearly 12,000 people in Sierra Leone, more than in any other country in the West African region [EPA]

    Sierra Leone's six million people are being confined to their homes for three days as the West African nation resorts again to a sweeping shutdown in a final push to stamp out Ebola.

    Thousands of teams will fan out around the country beginning on Friday, knocking on doors to remind people how Ebola is spread and how to prevent it. In the hot spots - the regions around the capital Freetown and in the north - health workers will also search for Ebola cases.

    Markets, shops, restaurants and bars must shut, officials said. Muslims will be allowed to attend prayers on Friday, and Christians can go to services on Sunday, the start of Holy Week before Easter.

    Alfred Palo Conteh, the head of Sierra Leone's Ebola response, said a major goal of the campaign was to fight complacency, more than a year after the outbreak was declared in West Africa.

    Ebola has infected nearly 12,000 people in Sierra Leone, more than in any other country, prompting authorities there to resort to some of the most stringent measures to stop the disease.

    While recent weeks have seen a steep reduction in infections, 33 new cases were confirmed in Sierra Leone last week, according to the World Health Organisation. Still, the outbreak is most worrying in Guinea, where it is driven by hidden cases. Liberia currently has only one patient in treatment.

    Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma vows to do "whatever it takes" to get to zero cases.

    "We understand that people are tired and want to get back to their normal life, but we're not there yet. It's the final meters in the race," said Roeland Monasch of UNICEF.

    SOURCE: AP


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