Tue | Nov 21, 2017

President considers second Ebola shutdown

Published:Wednesday | September 24, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Police guard a roadblock as the Sierra Leone government enforces a three-day lockdown on movement of all people in an attempt to fight the Ebola virus, in Freetown, Sierra Leone. AP

FREETOWN (AP): Sierra Leone's president said yesterday that health workers found "many sick people and corpses" during a three-day lockdown of the country, which is battling an unprecedented Ebola outbreak.

The weekend lockdown, believed to be the most dramatic disease-control measure taken since the plague was sweeping Europe in the Middle Ages, was so successful that a second one is being considered to slow Ebola's spread, President Ernest Bai Koroma said.

The Ebola outbreak is believed to have sickened more than 5,800 people and killed more than 2,800 in West Africa, primarily Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The World Health Organization has warned that these figures are likely underestimates. The unprecedented size and sweep of the outbreak has led to dramatic measures, like the cordoning off of entire communities in Liberia and the shutdown in Sierra Leone.

more homes reached

Koroma said on the radio that he is "mainly satisfied with the whole process, as it has helped reaching more homes and bringing to the fore many sick people and corpses."

Authorities were expected to give tallies later this week on the results of the three-day lockdown. Koroma said it would be up to the task force coordinating the Ebola response to recommend another lockdown, and, if it did, he would consider repeating the exercise.

Many experts initially raised doubts about its ability to slow the outbreak, saying it would be hard to enforce, and there were fears it could breed resentment among the population and even lead to violence.

But in the wake of a largely successful lockdown, Dr. David Heymann, an Ebola expert, said reaching so many people with information about Ebola could be crucial to stopping the outbreak. Six months into the world's largest-ever Ebola outbreak, confusion, fear and misunderstanding about the disease is still stymieing efforts to control it.