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Sierra Leone Restricts Cross-Border Movement, Intensifies Army Patrols

A pregnant woman suspected of contracting Ebola is lifted by stretcher into an ambulance in Freetown, Sierra Leone Sept. 19, 2014 in a handout photo provided by UNICEF.

Sierra Leone has intensified army patrols and restricted cross-border movements along the borders with Guinea and Liberia as part of the government’s efforts to contain the Ebola disease, according to Col. Michael Samura, spokesperson for Sierra Leone’s army.

Some health experts are concerned that Sierra Leoneans residing in neighboring Liberia and Guinea who may have been exposed to the disease could return home and unwittingly infecting other citizens – thereby worsening the country’s infection rate.

Local media reported that there were people possibly carrying the disease who crossed the border from neighboring Liberia into the country after Liberia opened its border with Sierra Leone.

Samura said people crossing the border into Sierra Leone will be rigorously tested. He denied, however, media reports that the government increased troop presence along the border.

“We released that over the period there has been a surge in the cases of Ebola in those area," he said. "I may bring out the example of Kailahun district area close to the Liberia border. There was relative improvement in infection, but because of the cross border activities, we realized that of late there has been a resurgence of cases. So that is why we think if we restrict movement and intensify security patrols, it will help a lot.”

“There are plans to construct a central screening point at that border area. Until that screening point is constructed, we will not allow any movement across the border again,” Samura said.

The World Health Organization estimates that 5,843 Ebola cases have been confirmed, with 2,803 deaths.

Samura said the army intensified patrols along the borders with the neighboring countries to support regional efforts to contain the dreaded disease.

“Guinea had initially started this kind of increased security presence, so we are just following suit to at least complement the effort, the effort of stopping this cross border Ebola virus,” he said.

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