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Sierra Leone declares Ebola lockdown

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Sierra Leone – one of the countries worst hit by

West Africa’s Ebola outbreak – has announced

a three-day lockdown to try to tackle the

disease.

From 19 to 21 September people will not be

allowed to leave their homes, a senior official

said.

The aim of the move is to allow health workers to

isolate new cases to prevent the disease from

spreading further.

The outbreak has killed about 2,100 people in

Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria in recent

months.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced

on Friday that health workers could be given

vaccines as from November, when safety tests are

completed.

More than 20 health workers have lost their lives

to the virus in Sierra Leone since the start of the

outbreak in March.

Ebola virus disease (EVD)

Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and

central nervous system damage

Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva

Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current

outbreak has mortality rate of about 55%

Incubation period is two to 21 days

There is no proven vaccine or cure

Supportive care such as rehydrating patients

who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help

recovery

Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are

considered to be virus’s natural host

Last month Liberia sealed off a large slum in the

capital, Monrovia, for more than a week in an

attempt to contain the virus.

The disease infects humans through close contact

with infected animals, including chimpanzees,

fruit bats and forest antelope.

It then spreads between humans by direct

contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or

organs, or indirectly through contact with

contaminated environments.

Even though the country’s security forces have

already been deployed to quarantine certain

areas, it remains unclear how such a countrywide

lockdown can be enforced, the BBC’s West Africa

correspondent Thomas Fessy reports from

Senegal.

The population’s willingness to obey will be key

for it to succeed – a forcible implementation is

likely to raise human rights issues and could

potentially spark violent demonstrations, our

correspondent adds.

A presidential adviser described the measure as

aggressive but argued that it was necessary to

deal with the spread of Ebola.

Meanwhile, officials in Nigeria have decided to

reopen schools in the country from 22

September.

They were closed as a precaution to prevent the

spread of the virus.

On Friday, the WHO announced that the blood of

patients who recovered from Ebola should be

used to treat others.

People produce antibodies in the blood in an

attempt to fight off an Ebola infection. The

antibodies may be able to help a sick patient’s

immune system if they are transferred.

However, large scale data on the effectiveness of

the therapy is lacking.

BBC

 

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