News / Health

Sierra Leone Blockades Ebola-stricken Areas

A outside view of the Connaught Hospital in Freetown that is used for treatment of Ebola virus victims in the city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Aug. 6, 2014.
A outside view of the Connaught Hospital in Freetown that is used for treatment of Ebola virus victims in the city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Aug. 6, 2014.

Police and soldiers in Sierra Leone blockaded rural areas hit by the deadly Ebola virus on Thursday, a senior officer said, after neighboring Liberia declared a state of emergency to tackle the worst-ever outbreak of the disease, which has killed 932 people.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced emergency measures late on Wednesday that will, for 90 days, allow her government to curtail civil rights by imposing quarantines on badly affected communities to contain an epidemic that has struck four West African nations.

In Geneva, World Health Organization (WHO) experts were due to hold a second day of meetings to discuss emergency measures to tackle the outbreak and whether to classify it as an international public health emergency.


'Complete blockade'

In eastern Sierra Leone - the worst-hit area of the country - the head of police said security forces deployed last night "to establish a complete blockade" of Kenema and Kailahun districts, setting up 16 checkpoints on major roads.

"No vehicles or persons are allowed into or out of the districts," Alfred Karrow-Kamara told Reuters, saying the measures would last for an initial 50-day period.

He said traders who had registered with security agencies would be able to bring in food and medicines. Security forces would mount foot patrols to ensure civilians did not slip past their roadblocks through the bush.

Though the vast majority of cases are in the remote border area of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, concern over Ebola's spread grew last month when a U.S. citizen died in Nigeria of the virus after arriving from the region.

A nurse who treated him has now also died in Lagos, and at least five other people have been isolated with symptoms.

In Saudi Arabia, a man suspected of contracting Ebola during a recent business trip to Sierra Leone also died early on Wednesday in Jeddah.

Some major airlines, such as British Airways and Emirates, have halted flights to affected countries, while many expatriates are leaving, officials have said.

Death toll

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

In Liberia, where the death toll is rising fastest, authorities on Wednesday shut a major hospital after its Cameroonian director died of Ebola and six other staff tested positive, including two nuns and a 75-year-old Spanish priest.

In a nationwide address late Wednesday, Sirleaf said Liberia must take "extraordinary measures" to protect people's lives and the survival of the state.

"Including, if need be, the suspension of certain rights and privileges," she said. "Ignorance, poverty, as well as entrenched religious and cultural practices continue to exacerbate the spread of the disease especially in the counties."

She warned that some civil liberties could be suspended as needed, and by Thursday soldiers already were restricting movements on the roads to the capital, Monrovia, witnesses said.

Some soldiers were deployed to the crossroads town of Klay about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Monrovia in an effort to stop people from three Ebola-infected counties from coming closer to the capital.

Sirleaf said in a statement late Wednesday that 32 health workers had already died of the disease and many sick people were going untreated after doctors deserted their posts. Schools across the country were shut last week and non-essential government workers temporarily laid off.

Military deployment

With Liberian troops being deployed to quarantine badly hit communities, Sirleaf said the state of emergency was necessary for "the very survival of our state and for the protection of the lives of our people."

The military deployment - Operation White Shield – is expected to be fully in place by Friday, officials said. In the ramshackle, ocean-front capital, residents greeted the announcement with alarm.

"This is the beginning of hardship. Ninety days of fear and suffering," said Nancy Poure, a small trader in the suburb of Johnsonville. "We need help from America. We need help."

While the outbreak has now reached four countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone account for more than 60 percent of the deaths, according to WHO.

After a trial drug was administered to two U.S. charity workers infected in Liberia, three of the world's leading Ebola specialists urged the WHO to offer people in West Africa the chance to take experimental drugs to fight the disease.

Trial drug controversy

The two Americans were struck with Ebola while treating patients in Liberia.  They are now at a hospital in the U.S. city of Atlanta, where they are said to be improving.

Liberian authorities have said they are willing to authorize in-country clinical trials.

President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he lacked enough information to approve the use of experimental drugs, adding that Ebola could be controlled with a strong public health response.

Meanwhile, the WHO says that next week it will convene an ethics panel to discuss the use of an experimental treatment for Ebola.

There is no known cure or vaccine for Ebola. Patients may experience fever, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches and uncontrollable bleeding from all openings in the body, including the eyes, mouth and ears.

The outbreak in West Africa is the deadliest ever for the disease, first detected nearly 40 years ago in central Africa.

Some information for this report provided by AP.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs