Schools shut, quarantine eyed to fight Ebola outbreak in Liberia

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 July, 2014, 9:21pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 July, 2014, 9:21pm

Liberia will close schools and consider quarantining some communities as it rolls out the toughest measures yet imposed by a West African government to halt the worst outbreak on record of the deadly Ebola virus.

"This is a major public health emergency. It's fierce, deadly and many of our countrymen are dying and we need to act to stop the spread," Lewis Brown, Liberia's information minister, said on Wednesday. "We need the support of the international community now more than ever. We desperately need all the help we can get."

Security forces were ordered to enforce the action plan, which includes placing all non-essential government workers on 30-day compulsory leave.

The highly infectious disease has been blamed for 672 deaths in the West African nations of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organisation. Liberia accounted for just under one-fifth of those deaths.

The US Peace Corps is temporarily withdrawing 340 volunteers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and two of its volunteers had been isolated and were under observation after coming in contact with a person who later died of the Ebola virus.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said in a speech that the government was considering quarantining several communities, based on the recommendation of the health ministry.