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Sierra Leone Isolates 3 More Areas in Response to Ebola

  • VOA News

An empty street is seen at the start of a three-day national lockdown in Freetown, September 19, 2014.

An empty street is seen at the start of a three-day national lockdown in Freetown, September 19, 2014.

Sierra Leone's government has placed three more districts under isolation as it tries to fight an outbreak of Ebola.

President Ernest Bai Koroma said late Wednesday the isolation of Port Loko and Bombali in the north and Moyamba in southern Sierra Leone will "pose difficulties" for people there, but that the lives of everyone are more important.

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

Two of the country's 14 districts were already under isolation, and the move comes days after Sierra Leone ended a three-day nationwide lockdown.

The World Health Organization says the situation in the country "continues to deteriorate." Its latest figures include 1,940 cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone and 597 deaths.

Updated death toll

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Overall, the WHO said Thursday the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed 2,917 people and infected more than 6,200.

It called attention to the need for more more beds to treat patients in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which have been the hardest hit by the virus.

According to WHO, "the situation in Guinea, although still of grave concern, appears to have stabilized: between 75 and 100 new confirmed cases have been reported in each of the past five weeks."

With too few beds and a huge shortage of expertise, the effort to tackle Ebola has switched to setting up care centers in communities and training locals, including 11,000 teachers in Liberia, to educating people about how to combat the disease.

In Sierra Leone, 75 percent of targeted households have been reached by "social mobilizers.'' But in some areas of Guinea, where an Ebola team was killed last week, there was still resistance to such efforts, the WHO said.

"For example, there are reports from Fassankoni, Guinea, that communities have set up roadblocks to screen entering response teams,'' it said.

The risk of infection among health workers is also much higher than previously thought. A recount has shown 81 have died in Sierra Leone out of 113 who caught the disease - a 72 percent death rate, instead of a 40 percent rate previously reported.

UN meeting on Ebola

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is convening a meeting of world leaders Thursday in New York to rally efforts to contain the outbreak, prevent future ones and treat those who are infected.

Koroma and Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf will take part through teleconference, while Guinean President Alpha Conde and other leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama will attend the meeting.

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