Sierra Leone under 3-day national lockdown to curb Ebola

Citizens of Ebola are prohibited from leaving their homes from Thursday to Sunday while health workers try to identify more cases.
By Gabrielle Levy  |  Sept. 18, 2014 at 4:10 PM
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MONROVIA, Sierra Leone, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Desperate to halt the spread of Ebola, Sierra Leone has instituted a three-day nationwide "lockdown" that some health officials worry could worsen the epidemic.

Citizens of the West African nation will be prohibited from leaving their homes from Thursday to Sunday as health workers go "ose to ose" -- door to door -- to identify cases and raise awareness.

The government expects the sweep could increase the number of cases by 20 percent; those with suspected cases will be taken to "holding centers" for treatment.

Some 2,600 people have already died in the past nine months, with the vast majority of the deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The country says it has enlisted 21,000 people to enforce the lockdown on a population of 6 million people. But there are fears the lockdown will backfire, similar to what happened when a riot broke out when a Liberian slum was placed under quarantine.

"It has been our experience that lockdowns and quarantines do not help control Ebola as they end up driving people underground and jeopardising the trust between people and health providers," Doctors Without Borders said in a statement. "This leads to the concealment of potential cases and ends up spreading the disease further."

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