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Sierra Leone Announces New, Extended Anti-Ebola Measures

FILE - British health workers lift a newly admitted Ebola patient onto a wheeled stretcher in to the Kerry town Ebola treatment center outside Freetown, Sierra Leone, Dec. 22, 2014.

Sierra Leone Sunday introduced new Ebola screening measures at the Freetown International Airport after two workers apparently contracted the virus.

Government spokesman Abdulai Bayraytay said the measures are intended to reassure the public.

“We just had a case few days ago wherein a worker at the airport, who is attached to the restaurant, got infected with confirmed Ebola. That was a red flag for us recognizing that, since the outbreak of the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone, we have not exported any patient out of our airports who had confirmed to be Ebola positive based on the symptoms,” he said.

Bayraytay said that although the round-the-clock cleaning measures are specifically targeting airport workers, passengers arriving and departing will also be subjected to the same surveillance measures.

“We want to make sure that our airports continue to respect the standard operating procedures for enhanced cleaning of all airport staff and passengers. So, these are all other measures we are implementing to reassure the public that both the workers and passengers are not at risk following this one incident,” he said.

He said a five-day Ebola lockdown in the northern region, which was officially to have ended January 1, had to be extended because it was yielding positive results in terms of helping to control the spread of the virus.

“The president had encouraged people in the respective districts in the northern region to bring in measures that they think will go a long way toward the mitigation of the spread of the virus. And, so far, we have seen a lot of dividend. Imagine yesterday (Saturday), we reported for the whole country 37 confirmed cases, and today (Sunday), it is 30,” Bayraytay said.

According to the UN, Sierra Leone has overtaken Liberia as the country worst hit by the Ebola virus, with 2,758 confirmed deaths out of 9,446 cases.

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