Via Vox.com, Julia Belluz writes: Sierra Leone is forcing its citizens into isolation to fight Ebola. Click through for the full report plus a new video. Excerpt:
During Sierra Leone's bloody 11-year civil war in the 1990s, there were no government-imposed lockdowns, even though people would often hide in their homes out of fear of reprisal from rebel fighters.
But now, because of the ongoing Ebola epidemic, the government is effectively grinding the country to a halt by imposing mandatory lockdowns on its citizens. The first ran from September 19 to 21, when Sierra Leoneans were not be allowed to leave their homes in an attempt to stop the spread of Ebola and isolate new cases.
And as the death toll in the country rises exponentially, Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma is announcing he will institute "extra measures" to fight Ebola — like extending the quarantine to include another one million people. To get a sense of just how dire the situation is, read parts of his recent address to the nation about Ebola:
The isolation of districts and chiefdoms will definitely pose great difficulties for our people in those districts. But the life of everyone and the survival of our country take precedence over these difficulties...
These are trying moments for everyone in the country, but we are a resilient people, a people that have shown their ability to unite and stand up as one to overcome difficulties...
We will use these strengths to confront those tendencies that undermine the fight against the disease, we will utilize our better calling to end this outbreak, and by the grace of God Almighty, we shall overcome and free our land from this evil virus.
Districts where Ebola is believed to be spreading fast — Port Loko, Bombali, Moyamba — will be isolated. People won't be able to leave their homes or go to school or work. During these periods, government and public-health officials will go door to door, educating people about Ebola and trying to identify patients who should be brought to containment facilities.
Officials in Sierra Leone are worried that many Ebola victims are either going underground or simply unable to access care. And the death toll continues to surge — with nearly 600 estimated Ebola deaths in Sierra Leone this year.