Sierra Leone Begins Ebola Lockdown 09/19 06:37
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) -- Thousands of health workers began knocking on
doors across Sierra Leone on Friday in search of hidden Ebola cases with the
entire West African nation locked down in their homes for three days in an
unprecedented effort to combat the deadly disease.
Authorities hope to find and isolate Ebola patients who have resisted going
to health centers, which are often seen only as places to die. International
health experts, including Doctors Without Borders, have warned such a strategy
could backfire especially if there are not enough beds at treatment centers for
all the new patients found.
In an address to the nation late Thursday, President Ernest Bai Koroma said
health workers would be handing out soap and that once a house had been visited
it would be marked with a sticker. He urged Sierra Leoneans to abide by the
"The survival and dignity of each and every Sierra Leonean is at stake; all
what we have toiled for as a people is at stake; this is a fight for each and
every one of us; this is a fight for this land that we love," he said.
More than 2,600 people have died across West Africa, with more than half the
fatalities recorded in Liberia.
Earlier this week, President Barack Obama pledged 3,000 troops and the first
increased American military aid arrived in Liberia on Thursday, according to
the U.S. Embassy there.
The C-17 U.S. military aircraft brought a team of seven military personnel
along with some equipment on Thursday. An embassy statement said more supplies
and personnel are expected in the coming days.
Meanwhile, six people have been arrested in connection with the killings of
eight people in Guinea who had been on an Ebola awareness campaign in a rural
area, the Guinean government said Friday. The team, accompanied by journalists,
had gone to the village of Womey on Tuesday. Another team dispatched to Womey
to look for nine missing members discovered eight bodies, including those of
three local journalists, a hospital administrator and several health officials,
the government said in a statement.
Only one of the missing, the son of a Womey deputy administrative leader,
was found alive, and hiding in the area, the statement said.
Many villagers in West Africa have reacted with fear and panic when
outsiders have come to conduct awareness campaigns and have even attacked
health clinics, believing they are spreading the disease.