25 Dec 2014

Sierra Leone imposes three-day Ebola lockdown

Sierra Leone’s north has been locked down over Christmas for at least three days in an attempt to contain the spread of the devastating Ebola virus.

Public gatherings have been banned and shops and markets will be closed for up to five days as officials try to contain the spread of the Ebola virus.

The Sierra Leone lockdown could last up to five days, and applies to all Christian and Muslim services due to be held in churches and mosques, except those held by Christians on Christmas day.

The lockdown is designed “to intensify the containment of the Ebola virus”, Alie Kamara, resident minister for the Northern Region, told Agence France Presse.

Other parts of the country will be free to apply lockdowns as they see fit to help contain the virus.

No vehicles will be allowed on roads during the lockdown, except those involved in official Ebola assignments.

Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency in July, and in early December imposed restrictions on large Christmas and new year gatherings.

The Ebola epidemic has killed over 7,500 people, mostly in west Africa. A state of emergency has been in place in Sierra Leone since July.

Sierra Leone has reported more than 9,000 cases of Ebola, with over 2,400 people dying since the epidemic started.

The outbreak started in Guinea in early 2014 and has also gripped Liberia.

Sierra Leone has now overtaken Liberia as the country with the highest number of Ebola cases.