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.
Sierra Leone has widened the Ebola quarantine to include another one million people in an attempt to curb the spread of the disease (photo AP)
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.
Liberia has imposed a night-time curfew in a bid to halt the deadly Ebola outbreak.
In addition, it has quarantined an area of the capital Monrovia.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said the curfew would be from 21:00 to 06:00 local time.
She said all movement would be blocked in and out of the West Point area.
Meanwhile, three doctors with Ebola who started taking experimental drug ZMapp last week showed remarkable signs of improvement, a Liberian minister said.
Liberia has imposed a night-time curfew in a bid to halt the deadly Ebola outbreak (photo AP)
Information Minister Lewis Brown said the drug was given to one Nigerian and two Liberian doctors who had caught Ebola while helping to save the lives of other victims of the virus.
In a radio broadcast, the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf blamed her government’s failure to bring Ebola under control on the public’s disregard for the advice of health workers and disrespect for official warnings.
Liberia already imposed a state of emergency earlier this month, but the number of deaths from the disease has continued to climb.
A mob attacked a health centre in West Point on Saturday, during which 17 suspected Ebola patients went missing.
Ebola has no known cure but the World Health Organization (WHO) has ruled that untested drugs can be used in light of the scale of outbreak in West Africa.
Since the beginning of the year, 1,229 people have died of the virus.
It is transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of an infected person.
Initial flu-like symptoms can lead to external haemorrhaging from areas such as eyes and gums, and internal bleeding which can cause organ failure.
Ebola outbreak began in Guinea and has since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
Yumen city in Gansu province, north-west China, has been partially sealed off and dozens of people placed in quarantine after a man died of bubonic plague on July 16, state media say.
A total of 151 people have been placed under observation, Xinhua news agency says. Authorities have isolated a part of the city centre and three sections of Chijin town which is an hour away.
The man was believed to have caught the infection after contact with a marmot.
Marmots are large, squirrel-type rodents that live in mountainous areas.
The victim is reported to be a 38-year-old man who had fed a dead marmot to his dog.
Yumen city has been partially sealed off and dozens of people placed in quarantine after a man died of bubonic plague (photo abcnews)
The deputy head of the hospital where the man died told reporters that the victim had arrived with an increased heart-rate and seemed to be slipping into shock. The hospital has since been quarantined.
It is not clear from reports how big the four quarantine zones are. Ten checkpoints have been set up around Yumen and Chijin.
Those in quarantine all had contact with the man, Xinhua said. None was showing signs of infection, it said.
Officials have told reporters that the group could be released after nine days of quarantine if no further cases of plague appeared among them.
Yumen is a small city in western Gansu province, which borders Xinjiang. The last reported case of bubonic plague in the city was in 1977, Xinhua said.
Gansu has seen at least five cases of the plague in the last 10 years, according to Xinhua.
Bubonic plague, known as the Black Death when it killed an estimated 25 million people in Europe during the Middle Ages, is now rare.
It is a bacterial disease mainly affecting wild rodents that is spread by fleas. Humans bitten by infected fleas can then develop bubonic plague.
Once bacteria infects the lungs, human-to-human transmission of pneumonic plague can occur through coughing.
If diagnosed early, bubonic plague can be successfully treated with antibiotics, while pneumonic plague has a high mortality rate, the WHO says.