While there are some encouraging signs of progress in Guinea and Liberia, the Ebola situation in Sierra Leone continues to deteriorate with a sharp jump in cases over the past 30 days. Roughly 800 cases have been reported out of just Sierra Leone during the first 15 days of December.
Today the country will begin the previously announced (see Sierra Leone To Impose 2-Week Regional `Lockdown’) 14 day campaign dubbed `Operation Western Area Surge’ that will see teams go from house-to-house in the hard hit capital looking for those who may be infected.
The President of the country – in a radio announcement today – also announced that all Christmas and New Year's Eve festivities, including church services and New Year's Day outings, have been prohibited. You may recall that last September the country held a similar nationwide 3-day lockdown , and while initially declared a `success’ by authorities (see BBC Report) – the virus has continued to spread.
Two reports, the first from the AP.
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — Ebola surveillance teams fanned out Wednesday in Sierra Leone’s capital to search every house for sick people, as the president imposed new restrictions on movement and gatherings in a bid to stop the disease’s spread.
President Ernest Bai Koroma launched the 14-day “Operation Western Area Surge” in a national broadcast, promising that treatment beds, labs and ambulances are ready to handle any new cases. He reiterated that Christmas and New Year’s celebrations are canceled and also banned all public gatherings during the holidays and movement between districts.
This report from the Anadolu News Agency.
By Cinnatus Dumbuya
President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone on Wednesday unveiled a raft of measures aimed at containing the spread of the Ebola virus, including house-to-house searches in capital Freetown and a ban on New Year festivities.
"Our country is at war with a vicious enemy that is still taking the lives of our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, children and friends," Koroma said in an address to the nation.
The house-to-house search exercise, codenamed "Operation Western Area Surge," was put together by the state-run National Ebola Response Center as a result of increased day-to-day transmission of the virus in Freetown.
"This exercise is to encourage people to come forward if they have a fever or other symptoms of Ebola and to call [hotline number] 117 for help at an early stage," Koroma said.
"The National Ebola Response Center has positioned beds, laboratories, ambulances, personnel and other logistics required to successfully implement this two-week exercise," he added.