A three-day lockdown has come into effect in Sierra Leone in a bid to stop the spread of the Ebola virus.
The aim of the move is to keep people confined to their homes while health workers isolate new cases and prevent Ebola from spreading further.
Critics say the lockdown will destroy trust between doctors and the public.
Sierra Leona is one of the countries worst hit by West Africa’s Ebola outbreak, which has killed more than 2,600 people.
The UN Security Council on Thursday declared the outbreak a “threat to international peace and security”.
The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution calling on states to provide more resources to combat it.
A three-day lockdown has come into effect in Sierra Leone in a bid to stop the spread of the Ebola virus (photo Reuters)
The medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has been strongly critical of the lockdown, arguing that ultimately it will help spread the disease.
MSF, whose staff is helping to tackle the outbreak, said in a statement this month that quarantines and lockdowns “end up driving people underground and jeopardizing the trust between people and health providers”.
“This leads to the concealment of potential cases and ends up spreading the disease further.”
But the authorities insist that the measure “will minimize the spread of the virus”, and that thousands of officials would be deployed to make sure residents stayed indoors.
Volunteers will go door-to-door to test people for the virus and take infected people to treatment centers.
The Ebola virus infects humans through close contact with infected animals, including chimpanzees, fruit bats and forest antelope.
It then spreads between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments.
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Guinean authorities searching for a team of health workers and journalists who went missing while trying to raise awareness of Ebola have found several bodies.
A spokesman for Guinea’s government said the bodies included those of three journalists in the team.
They went missing after being attacked on Tuesday, September 16, in a village near the southern city of Nzerekore.
More than 2,600 people have now died from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
It is the world’s worst outbreak of the deadly disease, with officials warning that more than 20,000 people could ultimately be infected.
The three doctors and three journalists disappeared after being pelted with stones by residents when they arrived in the village of Wome – near where the Ebola outbreak was first recorded.
One of the journalists managed to escape and told reporters that she could hear the villagers looking for them while she was hiding.
A government delegation, led by the health minister, had been dispatched to the region but they were unable to reach the village by road because a main bridge had been blocked.
On Thursday night, government spokesman Albert Damantang Camara said eight bodies had been found, including those of three journalists.
Guinean authorities searching for a team of health workers and journalists who went missing while trying to raise awareness of Ebola have found several bodies (photo WHO)
He said they had been recovered from the septic tank of a primary school in the village, adding that the victims had been “killed in cold blood by the villagers”.
The reason for the killings is unclear, but correspondents say many people in the region distrust health officials and have refused to co-operate with authorities, fearing that a diagnosis means certain death.
Last month, riots erupted in the area of Guinea where the health team went missing after rumors that medics who were disinfecting a market were contaminating people.
Speaking on September 18, French President Francois Hollande said his country was setting up a military hospital in Guinea as part of his country’s efforts to support the West African nations affected by the outbreak.
Francois Hollande said the hospital was a sign that France’s contribution was not just financial, adding that it would be in “the forests of Guinea, in the heart of the outbreak”.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on September 18 that more than 700 new cases of Ebola have emerged in West Africa in just a week, showing that the outbreak was accelerating.
The WHO said there had been more than 5,300 cases in total and that half of those were recorded in the past three weeks.
The Ebola epidemic has struck Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal.
A three-day lockdown is starting in Sierra Leone in a bid to stop the disease spreading.
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President Barack Obama has announced the US measures to combat the Ebola virus as he called the outbreak in West Africa “a threat to global security”.
“The world is looking to the United States,” Barack Obama said, but added the outbreak required a “global response”.
The measures announced included ordering 3,000 US troops to the region and building new healthcare facilities.
Ebola has killed 2,461 people this year, about half of those infected, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
The announcement comes as UN officials have called the outbreak a health crisis “unparalleled in modern times”.
Among the measures announced by Barack Obama on September 16:
- Building 17 healthcare facilities, each with 100 beds and isolation spaces, in Liberia
- Training as many as 500 health care workers a week
- Developing an air bridge to get supplies into affected countries faster
- Provide home health care kits to hundreds of thousands of households, including 50,000 that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will deliver to Liberia this week
Ebola only spreads in close contact but there is no cure and no vaccine. The outbreak began in Guinea before spreading to its neighbors Sierra Leone and Liberia.
President Barack Obama has announced the US measures to combat the Ebola virus as he called the outbreak in West Africa a threat to global security
Barack Obama said the outbreak had reached epidemic proportions in West Africa, as the disease “completely overwhelmed” hospitals and clinics and people were “literally dying on the streets”.
He called on other countries to step up their response, as a worsening outbreak would lead to “profound political, economic and security” issues.
There’s a “potential threat to global security if these countries break down”, he said, which would impact on everyone.
“The world knows how to fight this disease. We know if we take the proper steps we can save lives. But we have to work fast,” Barack Obama said.
Earlier, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the 3,000 troops would not provide direct care to Ebola patients. Some soldiers would be stationed at an intermediate base in Senegal, while others will provide logistical, training and engineering support at locations in Liberia.
Also on September 16, a US congressional panel heard testimony from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the national Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, and Dr. Kent Brently, who recovered from an Ebola infection after receiving an experimental treatment for the disease.
Dr. Anthony Fauci told the committee 10 volunteers in a separate vaccine study had shown no ill effects from an early stage trial.
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President Barack Obama will announce today his plans to send 3,000 troops to Liberia to help fight the Ebola virus, US officials say.
It is understood the US military will oversee building new treatment centers and help train medical staff.
There has been criticism of the slow international response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are the worst-hit countries.
The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 2,400 people.
More than half of those killed by the virus have been in Liberia. The World Health Organization (WHO) warned recently that the country could see thousands of more cases.
UN officials will discuss the international response to the outbreak at a meeting in Geneva.
Barack Obama is planning to send 3,000 troops to Liberia to help fight the Ebola virus
US officials said the aim of the country’s anti-Ebola initiative is to:
- Train up to 500 healthcare workers a week
- Construct 17 healthcare facilities, each with about 100 beds
- Establish a joint command based in Monrovia, Liberia, to co-ordinate between US and international relief efforts
- Distribute home healthcare kits to thousands of households
- Conduct a home and community-based campaign to train local people in how to handle patients
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has appealed directly to Barack Obama for help in tackling the outbreak.
Several disease experts have welcomed the US plan, though some also question its focus on Liberia.
“We should see all of West Africa now as one big outbreak,” says Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, quoted in The New York Times.
“It’s very clear we have to deal with all the areas with Ebola.”
Ebola spreads between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments.
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