Sierra Leone: Govt. takes stringent measures to halt Ebola spread

Freetown, Sierra Leone (PANA) - Sierra Leone, worst hit by the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) ravaging parts of West Africa, has taken more stringent measures to stop the spread of the disease, according to Information and Communication Minister Alpha Kanu.

In its latest update on the Ebola crisis that has hit the West African States of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Sierra Leone accounts for the highest case of the disease (717), in addition to 298 deaths, out of the total of 1,779 cases and 961 deaths that have been recorded.

This has forced Sierra Leonean authorities to take drastic measures, including the shutting of all night clubs, cinemas and video centres and the restriction in the ban on commercial motor bikes (popularly known as Okada), which will now operate between 7 am and 7 pm local time, daily.

PANA reports that Okada is the most dominant form of transport in a country struggling to cope with severe shortages of social services, including transportation.

In addition, the government has relaxed the order on the compulsory use of crash helmet by Okada passengers so that only the bike operators will wear it.

The helmets are considered a possible source of transmission of the EVD as they are worn repeatedly by different people.

In other measures taken, many sub-standard hospitals and clinics have been shut down.

President Ernest Bai Koroma has already declared a national emergency to enable his government to more effectively tackle the disease, while the government has ordered that the national Emergency Operation Centres (EOCs) in the capital city of Freetown be replicated across all districts.

Last week, the two major infected regions - Kenema and Kailahun - were ordered to be blockaded by the military in order to restrict the movement of those who may have been infected.

Some 750 troops have been deployed to the affected regions to provide the enabling environment for health workers to work effectively and efficiently to contain the virus, said Defence Minister Alfred Paulo Conteh.

Also, the bodies of Ebola victims are to be buried in the areas where they die, while all such burials must have been reported to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, which will give the necessary clearance.

PANA reports that the rapid spread of the virus in the country has been blamed on the refusal of infected people to report on time to the treatment centres.

Analysts said the denial of the existence of the Ebola virus and the mistrust for health officials among the population are to blame for the delay, by those infected, to report to the health authorities.

PANA reports that the WHO has declared a Public Health Emergency and advised the affected countries to also declare national emergencies to enable them tackle the disease more effectively

The virus is named after the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), where one of the first outbreaks occurred in 1976.

Early symptoms include sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat. These symptoms can appear two to 21 days after infection
-0- PANA KH/SEG 11Aug2014

11 august 2014 13:57:15

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