Sierra Leone steps up efforts to halt spread of Ebola virus

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 June, 2014, 10:23pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 June, 2014, 12:51am

Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency in a frontier region yesterday in a bid to halt the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, shutting its borders to trade with Guinea and Liberia, and closing schools, cinemas and nightclubs.

Seventeen people have died of Ebola in Sierra Leone, a figure that has doubled in the last week, Ministry of Health figures showed. Health checkpoints would be mounted in the eastern Kailahun district, and all deaths there must now be reported before burial. Anyone who dies of the virus must be buried under the supervision of health personnel, the Information Ministry said.

The decision to close district schools came after a nine-year-old whose parents died of Ebola tested positive for the virus, Deputy Minister of Information Theo Nicol said. "There is more contacts between schoolgoing kids than adults hence the closure of schools in the most affected district," he said. The ban exempted churches and mosques, but religious leaders should urge anyone with a fever to go to a clinic, he said. Local groups welcomed the measures.

According to government figures released yesterday, there were 46 confirmed cases of Ebola and another 122 suspected ones in the district near the Liberian border. At least 231 people have died since the outbreak of the disease, for which there is no known cure. Guinea has recorded more than 200 deaths