Sierra Leone declares Ebola lockdown
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
From 19 to 21 September people will not be
allowed to leave their homes, a senior official
The aim of the move is to allow health workers to
isolate new cases to prevent the disease from
The outbreak has killed about 2,100 people in
Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria in recent
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced
on Friday that health workers could be given
vaccines as from November, when safety tests are
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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