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Sierra Leone Mayor Urges Public to Follow Anti-Ebola Measures

A healthcare worker in protective gear sprays disinfectant around the house of a person suspected to have Ebola virus in Port Loko Community, situated on the outskirts of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Oct. 21, 2014.

It’s been seven months since the first case of Ebola was discovered in Sierra Leone. The mayor of the capital Freetown, Franklin Bode Gibson, said he has buried a large number of people.

“I can tell you," he said, "that the Freetown City Council has buried about 2,200 corpses since the start of the disease.”

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Officials say of that number, over 1,200 deaths have been caused by the deadly virus. Just this week two medical doctors have died of Ebola -- bringing the total number to seven. With over 500 people becoming infected every week, Gibson says he will prepare a new cemetery.

“We’re keeping about 1,000 more spaces [available] for burials…When we exhaust that, we will have to send burials to Allentown in the east, where we are now working on [obtaining] the land,” he said.

Transmission of the Ebola virus is mainly through contact. Gibson said he will introduce new measures to help stop the transmission.

The mayor of the capital Freetown, Franklin Bode Gibson (VOA/ K. Lewis)
The mayor of the capital Freetown, Franklin Bode Gibson (VOA/ K. Lewis)

“That is why you see we are introducing many laws telling people not to sell on the streets at night – they close at 6 o’clock," he said. "Everyone goes away. We are looking at ways of cutting down on the crowds in the market areas.”

The mayor said he is optimistic the epidemic will end soon.

“The new cemetery at Allentown is about six acres and we calculate those six acres can accommodate..up to 6,000 or 7,000 [bodies]," he said. "Despite that, we are not anticipating we will have those numbers of deaths by the time Ebola ends. I am looking at the end of Ebola to be around the 15th or 16th of December.”

The mayor advised Sierra Leoneans to change their behavioral attitudes so that the chain of transmission can be broken.