1411645641959_wps_2_A_health_worker_center_loAFRICA – Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma has widened a quarantine to include three more districts in an attempt to curb the spread of Ebola. Port Loko and Bombali in the north and Moyamba in the south are in effect to be sealed off immediately. Nearly 600 people have died of the virus in Sierra Leone and two eastern districts have been isolated since the beginning of August. The move follows a three-day nationwide lockdown that ended on Sunday night. New figures released by the UN World Health Organization show that 2,917 people have died in the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, with Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea worst affected. During Sierra Leone’s three-day curfew, more than a million households were surveyed and 130 new cases discovered, the authorities say. President 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. According to AFP news agency, 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.
In a televised address, the president acknowledged that the isolation 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. Despite efforts of 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, WHO said. The situation in Guinea appeared to be stabilizing, with up to 100 new confirmed cases reported in each of the past five weeks, but it was still of grave concern, it said. EP