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Sierra Leone to Search Freetown Houses for Ebola Patients


A worker adds a pin to map at the Western area emergency response center, Freetown, Sierra Leone, Dec. 16, 2014.

A worker adds a pin to map at the Western area emergency response center, Freetown, Sierra Leone, Dec. 16, 2014.

Authorities in Sierra Leone plan to conduct house-to-house searches around the capital, Freetown, to look for hidden Ebola patients.

Freetown has become a center of the West African Ebola outbreak, reporting more than 130 new confirmed cases in the first week of December, one-third of the country's total.

In a statement, Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma told residents of Freetown "don't hide the sick" when health workers begin visiting houses on Wednesday.

The statement said the searches are aimed at "extracting every sick person" in order to break the chain of transmission for the Ebola virus.

The president also confirmed that Christmas celebrations will be curbed this year. The government has banned all public Christmas celebrations starting December 20 in order to reduce physical contact among people.

Sierra Leone recently passed Liberia as the country with the most Ebola cases. The country has recorded more than 8,200 cases to date and more than 2,000 deaths from the virus.

The Ebola virus is transmitted through direct contact with an infected person — meaning that families taking care of loved ones are more likely get sick.

The World Health Organization said Monday that 18,464 cases and 6,841 deaths have been reported overall. Nearly all the cases are in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

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