Ebola: nationwide lockdown begins in Sierra Leone
Over six million people have been ordered to stay in their homes to help stop the spread of the disease
The government in Sierra Leone has enforced a three-day nationwide lockdown in an effort to contain the deadly Ebola epidemic in the country.
More than six million people will be confined to their homes until Sunday evening and all trading will cease as healthcare workers go door-to-door, checking people for Ebola symptoms.
They will also remind people about the dangers of touching infected corpses and taking patients to traditional healers instead of hospitals.
"We are still seeing too many infections taking place" [in Sierra Leone], a UN official told the BBC. Healthcare workers warn that people are becoming complacent and are not doing enough to protect themselves from the disease.
Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have set a goal of stopping the spread of the disease by April 16. Despite dozens of new cases each week, Sierra Leone’s president Ernest Koroma is determined to meet that deadline.
"I have made my personal commitment to do whatever it takes to get to zero Ebola infections and I call on every Sierra Leonean in every community to pull together," he said, according to AFP.
A similar, but smaller scale lockdown conducted in September last year was hailed as a success as it helped to slow down the spread of the disease.
The latest lockdown will be lifted for several hours on Friday for Muslim prayers, as well as on Sunday for church services.
Ebola has killed almost 10,200 people, mainly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. A total of 79 new Ebola cases were confirmed by the World Health Organization in it latest situation report, of those 33 were in Sierra Leone, 45 in Guinea and one in Liberia.
“While the number of cases has slowed since the peak of the outbreak, the virus is far from eradicated,” reports the BBC.