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Sierra Leone calls Ebola lockdown a success

Mon, 22nd Sep 2014 14:49

Freetown (Alliance News) - The government of Sierra Leone said Monday that a three-day lockdown aimed at containing an Ebola outbreak had been a success.

People were confined to their homes from Friday to Sunday, during which time, about 30,000 medical volunteers went door to door to find and treat Ebola sufferers and distribute soap.

The campaign reached more than 75% of its target of visiting 1.5 million households, the Emergency Operations Centre said.

The number of new Ebola cases discovered during the lockdown was due to be made public once the cases are confirmed.

The measure was criticized by some aid organizations. The information campaign came three months too late, said Lothar Wagner from the Catholic charity Salesians of Don Bosco.

He said a curfew was not an adequate measure to contain the Ebola crisis.

"We need as soon as possible at least 5,000 beds for Ebola patients, more labs to carry out immediate Ebola tests and of course the staff necessary for that," Wagner said.

But Sierra Leonean media reported that the lockdown prompted many people to call radio stations and report new cases.

"At first, I was not happy with the three days' lockdown," said Ansumana Kargbo, a pastor. But he said the measure then prompted him to go "house to house telling people about the danger of the Ebola virus."

The World Health Organization, meanwhile, said countries at the centre of the Ebola outbreak must do more to protect medical staff and get the epidemic under control.

The WHO's emergency expert committee on Ebola held consultations last week and "identified a number of areas where more action and attention is urgently needed," the UN health agency said.

To stop the high death toll among health workers, the affected countries should provide staff with adequate protection, infection control training and access to health services, the experts said.

Local communities must become better involved in control measures such as tracing the outbreak and conducting safe burials, they said.

The committee also said people in quarantined areas must have access to food, water and other essential services.

More than 5,300 people have become infected with the virus in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone while more than 2,600 have died, according to the latest WHO statistics.

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said she would welcome the participation in the fight against Ebola of volunteer doctors and nurses from the German military.

"Everyone who can offer specialist help is needed," she told broadcaster n-tv.

On Friday, Germany announced it was beginning military airlifts to Senegal's capital, Dakar, to fly supplies to the three nations hardest hit by the Ebola epidemic.

Copyright dpa

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