Sierra Leone has widened the Ebola quarantine to include another one million people in an attempt to curb the spread of the disease.
President Ernest Bai Koroma has announced that northern districts of Port Loko and Bombali, and Moyamba in the south will be sealed off immediately.
Nearly 600 people have died of the virus in Sierra Leone where two eastern districts are already blockaded.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has said the world needs to act faster to halt the West Africa Ebola outbreak.
“There is still a significant gap between where we are and where we need to be,” Barack Obama told a high-level United Nations meeting on Ebola.
2,917 people have died in the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, with Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea worst affected, according to new figures released by the World Health Organization (WHO).
President Ernest Bai Koroma’s announcement follows a three-day nationwide lockdown that ended on Sunday night.
Two eastern districts have been isolated since the beginning of August and the extension of the indefinite quarantine means more than a third of Sierra Leone’s 6.1 million population now finds itself unable to move freely.
During Sierra Leone’s three-day curfew, more than a million households were surveyed and 130 new cases discovered, the authorities say.
President Ernest Bai Koroma said the move had been a success but had exposed “areas of greater challenges”, which was why other areas were being quarantined.
Only people delivering essential services can enter and circulate within areas under quarantine.
In a televised address, the president acknowledged that the blockade would “pose great difficulties” for people.
“[But] the life of everyone and the survival of our country take precedence over these difficulties,” he said.
According to WHO, the situation nationally in Sierra Leone continues to deteriorate with a sharp increase in the number of newly reported cases in the capital, Freetown, and its neighboring districts of Port Loko, Bombali, and Moyamba, which are now under quarantine.
The WHO said despite efforts to deploy more health workers and open new Ebola treatment centers in the worst-affected countries, there was still a significant lack of beds in Sierra Leone and Liberia, with more than 2,000 needed.
The situation in Guinea had appeared to be stabilizing, but with up to 100 new confirmed cases reported in each of the past five weeks, it was still of grave concern, it said.
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