Sierra Leone announces new curfew to halt Ebola
Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma said Friday he was imposing a three-week daytime curfew in the last Ebola-hit areas in a bid to curb a resurgence of the deadly virus.
Koroma announced on state television he was imposing “with immediate effect a 6:00 am to 6:00 pm chiefdom-level curfew” in parts of the northwestern districts of Kambia and Port Loko, the only areas still reporting new infections.
People in the worst-hit chiefdoms, or areas, of those districts will be confined to their homes for 21 days, he said, warning that anyone found flouting the order would find themselves in jail for the same period.
“Now, more than ever, is the time for us to remain vigilant,” he said.
The latest lockdown was called over fears that the disease that has killed about 3,900 in Sierra Leone was making a comeback in the northwest.
Neighboring Liberia was declared Ebola- free in May, but hopes that Sierra Leone and Guinea would quickly follow suit have been dashed in recent weeks.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday the retreat of the virus “that was apparent throughout April and early May has stalled.”
It said there were 31 confirmed new cases in the week ending June 7 — 15 in Sierra Leone and 16 in Guinea, where the outbreak began in December 2013.
In the previous week, 13 cases had been found in Guinea, a clear increase on the nine reported a week before that.
The pattern was similar in Sierra Leone, where 12 new cases were found in the last week of May compared to only three the previous week.
“This is the second consecutive weekly increase in case incidence, and the highest weekly total number of cases reported from Sierra Leone since late March,” the report said.
One of the deadliest viruses known to man, Ebola is spread only through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person showing symptoms, such as fever or vomiting.
Since Ebola spread to Sierra Leone in May last year, the government has imposed several local and nationwide curfews as it fights to halt the epidemic.