30230-sierra-leone-to-impose-ebola-curfew-6-1410013738FREETOWN, Sierra Leone – Sierra Leone prepared Thursday, September 18, for an unprecedented 3-day nationwide lockdown to contain the deadly spread of the Ebola virus in a controversial move which experts claimed could worsen the epidemic. The population of six million will be confined to their homes from midnight (0000 GMT) going into Friday as almost 30,000 volunteers go door-to-door uncovering patients and bodies hidden in people’s homes. “Rain or shine, the shutdown exercise is going to go ahead. During the three days… the job is going to get done,” said Steven Gaojia, head of the government’s emergency operation centre. The worst-ever outbreak of Ebola has claimed more than 500 lives in Sierra Leone, one of three countries at the epicenter of the epidemic which has so far killed almost 2,500. “Ose to Ose Ebola Tok – house-to-house Ebola talk” in the widely-spoken Krio language – will see more than 7,000 volunteer teams of four visiting the country’s 1.5 million homes. They will hand out bars of soap and information on how to prevent infection, as well as setting up “neighborhood watch”-style community Ebola surveillance teams. The government has said the teams will not enter people’s homes and are not tasked with collecting patients or bodies, but will call emergency services or burial teams “if by chance the teams happen to bump into such situations.” Extra beds have been set up at schools and hospitals across the country, including 200 around Freetown, with the government projecting a 15 to 20 percent upsurge of cases as new patients are discovered. More

 

AFRICA – Doctors Without Borders staff member from France has contracted the Ebola virus while working in Liberia, the group announced Wednesday. She is the group’s first international staffer to become infected with Ebola in the current outbreak, a spokesman said. The French worker — on assignment in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital — was put in isolation Tuesday after developing a fever, the group said in a statement. Laboratory tests confirmed she had contracted Ebola, and she is to be evacuated to France for treatment, it said. Doctors Without Borders said it is investigating how the worker contracted the virus. The group said that for privacy reasons it was not identifying the worker or commenting further at this time. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the worst on record and has caused the most devastation in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, where it was first reported in March. As of Saturday, nearly 5,000 Ebola cases were reported in the region, although many had not yet been confirmed through lab testing, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. Almost half of those believed infected have died. There is no cure or vaccine for Ebola, which is transmitted through contact with the bodily fluids of those infected. Doctors Without Borders said more than 2,000 of its personnel, including about 200 international volunteers, are working in West Africa. Two of the group’s national staff members — one from Guinea and one from Sierra Leone — died last month after contracting Ebola, a spokesman said. –EP

 

NEW ORLEANS, La. —In a statement released late Wednesday night, the Centers for Disease Control stressed that crew members on a freighter inbound to New Orleans were suffering from malaria and show no traces of Ebola. First responders who took those individuals to the hospital wore protective garb as a precaution, though health officials noted early on that it was extremely unlikely that Ebola was to blame for the sickness on the Marine Phoenix. The ship remained at anchor in the Mississippi River near Belle Chasse. It was expected to continue its voyage to New Orleans early on Thursday. CDC, along with local and federal officials, responded today to a report of illness on a ship at the Port of New Orleans. Earlier today, local EMS transferred three of the ship’s crew members to a local hospital. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) confirmed a positive test result this evening for malaria in the patient being treated at a New Orleans-area hospital. DHH shared this information with CDC and local officials. The other two patients had mild symptoms and are being assessed. Another ill crew member disembarked in the Bahamas two days ago, where he was diagnosed with malaria and later died. Malaria is spread by mosquitoes and does not spread from person to person. Approximately 1,500-2,000 cases are reported every year in the United States, almost all in recent travelers. The ship’s itinerary included Matadi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in addition to other ports. Based on a hospital’s request, CDC conducted testing on the crew member who died, and the results showed that this crew member was negative for the type of Ebola that is causing the current outbreak in West Africa. Ebola is not suspected as a cause of the other crew members’ illnesses. No crew members had known exposures to Ebola. The CDC will continue to work closely with the hospital and local health authorities. –WDSU