Ebola-hit Sierra Leone's 'very essence' in danger: president

August 4, 2014 by Rod Mac Johnson

Sierra Leone's leader Monday appealed to the people of the Ebola-hit west African country to fight together against the deadly epidemic, warning that "the very essence" of the nation was at stake.

President Ernest Bai Koroma urged families to ensure that victims were reported to and asked every Sierra Leonean to take responsibility for raising awareness about the killer tropical virus.

"This is a collective fight. The very essence of our nation is at stake," he said in a televised address marking a "stay at home day" aimed at recalibrating the state's response to the outbreak.

Sierra Leone has seen 574 cases—the most of any nation—and 252 deaths since the virus spread from neighbouring Guinea in May.

"In this fight every individual counts, for if every individual or family, community or town fails to act, the risk is increased for the whole nation."

Koroma declared a state of emergency last week ahead of a regional summit at which Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone agreed to a cross-border isolation zone at the epicentre of the world's worst-ever outbreak.

Streets in the capital Freetown were empty on Monday as people observed "stay at home day", called to give the authorities breathing space to reorganise the battle to halt an epidemic that has seen more than 800 deaths across west Africa since the start of the year.

"Freetown is as quiet as a graveyard," health worker Claudius Williams told AFP.

"As we move around in our sensitisation drive, you could hear a pin drop as people remain inside their houses with doors firmly shut. We have to knock endless times before they open them."

'Disturbing spread'

Bars, restaurants, shops and marketplaces were all shut and the few vehicles plying the capital's roads mostly belonged to the and emergency services.

Plain-clothed police questioned the few people walking the streets about their movements before sending them home.

Government offices said they were discouraging visits by members of the public, urging people to telephone with queries instead of showing up in person.

Leaflets explaining the dangers associated with Ebola and how to combat them have been distributed to shoppers, while government vehicles have been emblazoned with banners offering safety advice.

People walking around Freetown in recent days have been increasingly wearing brightly coloured gloves displaying the slogan "Don't touch".

Health ministry spokesman Sidi Yahya Tunis said the progress of the virus was being slowed in the eastern district of Kailahun, where the first cases were reported, with no new cases in several days.

But he added: "The only disturbing trend is that people are moving from the epicentre to districts that had never been affected before. This is why for the past one week, about four or five districts have had cases for the first time."

He said households with confirmed cases would be quarantined for 21 days.

Meanwhile transport authorities announced that all public buses were being disinfected.

And 150 village chieftains issued a statement on Monday calling on tribal meetings and other activities to be put on hold until Ebola had been beaten.

Social Welfare Minister Moijueh Kaikai said however the crisis posed no threat to Sierra Leone's participation in the annual hajj pilgrimage, which will see Muslims from across the globe heading to the sacred Saudi Arabian city of Mecca in October.

"The government has signed an agreement with the hajj organisers in Saudi Arabia for 1,000 pilgrims," he told reporters.

Explore further: Sierra Leone raises Ebola death toll

Related Stories

Sierra Leone raises Ebola death toll

June 2, 2014
Sierra Leone raised its death toll from the highly contagious Ebola virus on Monday, sparking fears that the deadly epidemic gripping west Africa is spreading.

Sierra Leone raises Ebola death toll, confirms new cases

May 30, 2014
Sierra Leone on Friday raised its death toll from Ebola and doubled the number of confirmed cases of the virus amid fears the deadly epidemic gripping West Africa is spreading.

Head doctor at S.Leone Ebola clinic catches deadly virus

July 23, 2014
A doctor in charge of an Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone has been admitted to hospital after contracting the deadly virus himself, the health ministry said Wednesday.

Sierra Leone doubles Ebola death toll

June 9, 2014
Sierra Leone doubled its death toll from the highly contagious Ebola virus on Monday, as international aid organisations struggled to contain the deadly epidemic gripping west Africa.

Gambia lifts flight bans as Guinea says Ebola spread slowed

May 13, 2014
The Gambia has lifted a ban on flights from Liberia and Sierra Leone imposed at the peak of the Ebola virus outbreak as Guinea said the spread of the deadly virus had "slowed significantly".

Sierra Leone reports two Ebola deaths, 12 cases

May 30, 2014
Health officials in Sierra Leone say there have been two deaths from Ebola and a dozen other cases of the deadly disease.

Recommended for you

A new theory on reducing cardiovascular disease risk in binge drinkers

January 23, 2018
A new study shows that binge drinkers have increased levels of a biomarker molecule—microRNA-21—that may contribute to poor vascular function.

Flu infection study increases understanding of natural immunity

January 23, 2018
People with higher levels of antibodies against the stem portion of the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) protein have less viral shedding when they get the flu, but do not have fewer or less severe signs of illness, according ...

New long-acting approach for malaria therapy developed

January 22, 2018
A new study, published in Nature Communications, conducted by the University of Liverpool and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine highlights a new 'long acting' medicine for the prevention of malaria.

Virus shown to be likely cause of mystery polio-like illness

January 22, 2018
A major review by UNSW researchers has identified strong evidence that a virus called Enterovirus D68 is the cause of a mystery polio-like illness that has paralysed children in the US, Canada and Europe.

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.