Ebola-hit Sierra Leone searches homes, bans festivities

All New Year's Eve festivities, including church services and New Year's Day outings, have been prohibited

Ebola-hit Sierra Leone searches homes, bans festivities
World Bulletin/News Desk
President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone on Wednesday unveiled a raft of measures aimed at containing the spread of the Ebola virus, including house-to-house searches in capital Freetown and a ban on New Year festivities.

"Our country is at war with a vicious enemy that is still taking the lives of our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, children and friends," Koroma said in an address to the nation.

The house-to-house search exercise, codenamed "Operation Western Area Surge," was put together by the state-run National Ebola Response Center as a result of increased day-to-day transmission of the virus in Freetown.

"This exercise is to encourage people to come forward if they have a fever or other symptoms of Ebola and to call [hotline number] 117 for help at an early stage," Koroma said.

"The National Ebola Response Center has positioned beds, laboratories, ambulances, personnel and other logistics required to successfully implement this two-week exercise," he added.

With a view to reducing physical contact in the teeming capital, traders and market women have been provided with new business schedules.

"Traders and market women are only allowed to trade from 6am to 6pm Monday to Friday and from 6am to 12pm on Saturdays," the president said. "Trading on Sunday is suspended until further notice."

In recent months, Ebola – a contagious disease for which there is no known treatment or cure – has killed 6,388 people, mostly in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization.

The deadly virus has claimed 3,177 lives in Liberia, 1,768 in Sierra Leone and 1,428 in Guinea.

Sierra Leone, however, is ahead in terms of new infections, with 7,798 cases, while Liberia has had 7,719 new cases and Guinea 2,283.

Capital Freetown has been described as a hotspot for rapid Ebola transmission, accounting for roughly half of the country's reported Ebola cases within the past two weeks.

-No festivities-

President Koroma said tough measures would have to be taken to curb the spread of Ebola during the upcoming holiday season, when Sierra Leoneans generally celebrate with their families.

"Let me also remind the general public that the state of emergency is still in place and that my government will implement its measures to the letter during this festive season," he asserted. 

"All public gatherings are prohibited; this includes all public activities around restaurants, night clubs and beach areas in the western area," said the president.

He also announced measures pertaining to Christmas worship services.

"Christians attending church ceremonies on Christmas Day will be allowed to do so, but are requested to return home immediately after… to celebrate Christmas with their families," Koroma said.

"All New Year's Eve festivities, including church services and New Year's Day outings, are prohibited," he added.

"Any church wishing to hold a New Year's Eve service should ensure the service ends before 5pm Wednesday, December 31," the president said.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Aralık 2014, 21:01