Home World Africa news Ebola outbreak 2015: Sierra Leone imposes three-day lockdown

Ebola outbreak 2015: Sierra Leone imposes three-day lockdown


Sierra Leone authorities have imposed a three-day lockdown to curb the spread of Ebola, with the entire population ordered to stay at home.

There is a two-hour exemption on Friday to allow Muslim prayers and a 5-hour window for Christians on Sunday.

Volunteers are going door-to-door, looking for people with signs of the disease and reminding others how to stay safe.

Dozens of new cases are still being reported in Sierra Leone every week.

However, the three West African countries worst affected by Ebola – Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea – have seen a steep reduction in infections in recent weeks.Ebola outbreak Sierra Leone

This lockdown comes amidst some rare good news. According to official figures from the World Health Organization, there were just 33 new confirmed cases last week – the lowest number since June 2014.

With these falling figures there is danger of growing complacency, the government says.

This is one of the main reasons behind the lockdown – volunteers will remind people how to protect themselves against a virus that is still a real threat.

They will focus their efforts on northern and western areas where some infections still come as a surprise to officials – 16% of cases last week were not known Ebola contacts.

Experts have criticized previous stay-at-homes as too heavy-handed and top-down in their approach. Concerns were raised that some people did not have access to food.

The hope is, a year after the outbreak was declared, such logistical problems have been ironed out and that this measure will bring the country closer to its goal of zero Ebola infections by April 2015 – an ambitious target that is just two weeks away.