Sierra Leone plans lockdown to fight Ebola

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Sierra Leone Plans Lockdown to Fight Ebola


Sierra Leone has announced drastic measures to try and curb the Ebola epidemic currently sweeping across West Africa: for three days, the government is placing the entire country in lockdown.

From Sept. 19-21, residents of Sierra Leone will be confined to their homes while medical teams sweep the country door-to-door, looking for Ebola patients hiding from medical authorities. The lockdown will be enforced by the military and the police. (Video via ENCA)

Sierra Leone hopes the lockdown will help stop the spread of Ebola, which has killed 491 people in the country, according to the latest WHO estimates. The WHO says over 2,000 people have died from the outbreak across the three hardest-hit countries - Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. (Video via BBC)

30 PHOTOS
Dr. Salia Sierra Leone Ebola
See Gallery
Sierra Leone plans lockdown to fight Ebola
Health workers wears protective gears before entering the house of a person suspected to have died of the Ebola virus in Port Loko Community situated on the outskirts of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014. After emerging months ago in eastern Sierra Leone, Ebola is now hitting the western edges of the country where the capital is located with dozens of people falling sick each day, the government said Tuesday. So many people are dying that removing bodies is reportedly a problem. (AP Photo/Michael Duff)
An #Ebola-stricken surgeon dies according to Nebraska Medical Center. http://t.co/jXwf5jF36s http://t.co/y1sLEtX5d1
Health workers in protective suits transport Dr. Martin Salia, a surgeon working in Sierra Leone who had been diagnosed with Ebola, from a jet that brought him from Sierra Leone to a waiting ambulance that will take him to the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Neb., Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014. Dr. Salia is the third Ebola patient at the Omaha hospital and the 10th person with Ebola to be treated in the U.S. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Police vehicles escort the ambulance carrying Dr. Martin Salia, a surgeon working in Sierra Leone who had been diagnosed with Ebola, as it heads from the airport to the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Neb., Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014. Dr. Salia is the third Ebola patient at the Omaha hospital and the 10th person with Ebola to be treated in the U.S. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Health workers in protective suits transport Dr. Martin Salia, a surgeon working in Sierra Leone who had been diagnosed with Ebola, from a jet that brought him from Sierra Leone to a waiting ambulance that will take him to the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Neb., Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014. Dr. Salia is the third Ebola patient at the Omaha hospital and the 10th person with Ebola to be treated in the U.S. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Health workers wear protective gears before entering the house of a person suspected to have died of Ebola virus in Port loko Community situated on the outskirts of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014. After emerging months ago in eastern Sierra Leone, Ebola is now hitting the western edges of the country where the capital is located with dozens of people falling sick each day, the government said Tuesday. So many people are dying that removing bodies is reportedly a problem. (AP Photo/Michael Duff)
A baby pig sleeps in front of an ambulance used at the Connaught Hospital as part of their Ebola virus fleet, during a three-day lockdown to prevent the spread on the Ebola virus in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. Volunteers going door to door during a three-day lockdown intended to combat Ebola in Sierra Leone say some residents are growing increasingly frustrated and complaining about food shortages. (AP Photo/ Michael Duff)
A health worker volunteer talks with a resident on how to prevent and identify the Ebola virus in others, and distributes bars of soap in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Thousands of health workers began knocking on doors across Sierra Leone on Friday in search of hidden Ebola cases with the entire West African nation locked down in their homes for three days in an unprecedented effort to combat the deadly disease. (AP Photo/Michael Duff)
In this photo taken on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, Idrissa Kargbo, Sierra Leone's national marathon champion, helps volunteers distribute information on Ebola in Freetown, Sierra Leone. As a boy, marathon runner Idrissa Kargbo sprinted through the villages of Sierra Leone on errands for his grandmother and later as a coffee courier. Now at 23 years old, his times have qualified him for races on three continents. (AP Photo/ Michael Duff)
A mother breastfeeds her child as they wait to see a doctor for a routine visit at the Kuntorloh Community Health Centre in the outskirts of Freetown on November 14, 2014. Ebola-hit Sierra Leone faces social and economic disaster as gains made since the country's ruinous civil war are wiped out by the epidemic, according to a major study. Damage to most sectors of the economy will see growth shrink from 20.1 percent last year to just five percent in 2014, the finance ministry and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) found. AFP PHOTO/ FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
A baby naps on his mother's shoulder as they enter the vaccination room during a routine visit at the Kuntorloh Community Health Centre in the outskirts of Freetown on November 14, 2014. Ebola-hit Sierra Leone faces social and economic disaster as gains made since the country's ruinous civil war are wiped out by the epidemic, according to a major study. Damage to most sectors of the economy will see growth shrink from 20.1 percent last year to just five percent in 2014, the finance ministry and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) found. AFP PHOTO/ FRANCISCO LEONG (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
In this April 2014 photo provided by the United Methodist News Service, Dr. Martin Salia poses for a photo at the United Methodist Church's Kissy Hospital outside Freetown, Sierra Leone. Salia who was diagnosed with Ebola on Monday, landed at Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Neb., Saturday, Nov. 17, 2014, and was being transported to the Nebraska Medical Center.
In this photo taken on Monday, Oct. 27, 2014. Health workers spray disinfectant on the body of a man as they prepare to place him into a grave, rear, as he is suspected of contracting and dying from the Ebola virus on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia. Liberia is making some progress in containing the Ebola outbreak while Sierra Leone is "in a crisis situation which is going to get worse," the top anti-Ebola officials in the two countries said. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)
Health workers wear protective gears before entering the house of a person suspected to have died of Ebola virus in Port loko Community situated on the outskirts of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014. After emerging months ago in eastern Sierra Leone, Ebola is now hitting the western edges of the country where the capital is located with dozens of people falling sick each day, the government said Tuesday. So many people are dying that removing bodies is reportedly a problem. (AP Photo/Michael Duff)
A healthcare worker in protective gear is seen at an Ebola treatment center in the west of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. The deadly Ebola virus has infected two people in what was the last untouched district in Sierra Leone, the government said Thursday, a setback in efforts to stop the spread of the disease in one of the hardest-hit countries. (AP Photo/Michael Duff)
A healthcare worker mixes chlorine with water at an Ebola treatment centre in Hastings, Freetown, Sierra Leone, Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Some doctors in countries hit hardest by the deadly Ebola disease decline to operate on pregnant women for fear the virus could spread. Governments face calls from frightened citizens to bar travel to and from the afflicted region. Meanwhile, the stakes get higher as more people get sick, highlighting a tricky balance between protecting people and preserving their rights in a global crisis. (AP Photo/Michael Duff)
Rendi Murphree, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who will soon be leaving for Monrovia, Liberia, packs for her trip at her home in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Murphree will be working at the airport in Monrovia, screening outbound passengers for the Ebola virus. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
A disguised supporter of Ivory Coast's national football team holds a placard reading 'Stop Ebola', as he attends the 2015 African Cup of Nations qualifying football match between Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone on September 6, 2014 at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan. AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)
Medical workers of the John Fitzgerald Kennedy hospital in Monrovia put on protective suits prior to carrying bodies of Ebola virus victims on September 6, 2014. The death toll from the Ebola epidemic has climbed above 2,000, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on September 5, as it voiced hopes a vaccine could be available in November. The deadly virus has claimed 2,097 lives out of 3,944 people infected in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, since emerging last December, the UN's health organ said after a two-day crisis meeting in Geneva. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A medical worker of the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Hospital in Monrovia disinfects a wall on September 6, 2014. The death toll from the Ebola epidemic has climbed above 2,000, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on September 5, as it voiced hopes a vaccine could be available in November. The deadly virus has claimed 2,097 lives out of 3,944 people infected in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, since emerging last December, the UN's health organ said after a two-day crisis meeting in Geneva. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Medical workers of the John Fitzgerald Kennedy hospital in Monrovia, responsible for transport of the bodies of Ebola virus victims, wear their protective suits as they walk past a sick woman waiting for assistance, on September 6, 2014. The death toll from the Ebola epidemic has climbed above 2,000, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on September 5, as it voiced hopes a vaccine could be available in November. The deadly virus has claimed 2,097 lives out of 3,944 people infected in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, since emerging last December, the UN's health organ said after a two-day crisis meeting in Geneva. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A doctor wearing protective gear takes part in a drill with a dummy to demonstrate the procedures of transporting an Ebola victim,in Hong Kong Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. An Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 1,500 people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The university student is Senegal's first case of the dreaded disease. (AP Photo/Tyrone Siu, Pool)
Doctor and nurse wearing protective gear take part in a drill with a dummy to demonstrate the procedures of transporting an Ebola victim,in Hong Kong Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. An Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 1,500 people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The university student is Senegal's first case of the dreaded disease. (AP Photo/Tyrone Siu, Pool)
In this photo taken on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, a woman washes her hands in chlorinated water at the Connaught Hospital, which has suffered the loss of medical workers in the past from the Ebola virus, in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan was one of those on the front lines of the Ebola outbreak. The tireless Khan was jovial but forceful, doling out praise and criticism to junior doctors at his hospital. But Khan became infected and died, and so have at least 120 other medical workers in Sierra Leone and in three other countries, creating immediate and long-term impacts in a region that already had an understaffed and under equipped health care system. (AP Photo/ Michael Duff)
This photo taken on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 shows the outside view of the entrance of the Connaught Hospital, which has suffered the loss of medical workers in the past from the Ebola virus, in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan was one of those on the front lines of the Ebola outbreak. The tireless Khan was jovial but forceful, doling out praise and criticism to junior doctors at his hospital. But Khan became infected and died, and so have at least 120 other medical workers in Sierra Leone and in three other countries, creating immediate and long-term impacts in a region that already had an understaffed and under equipped health care system. (AP Photo/ Michael Duff)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


Sierra Leone's information minister told CNN the lockdown will help identify all of the remaining Ebola patients who haven't come forward, as well as give medical authorities time to diagnose and treat people who have contracted the virus, but haven't shown symptoms of it yet.

"Locking down the country is like turning the whole country into an open laboratory. ... When they develop symptoms within three days, they will be identified and taken to treatment centers."

But the country's strategy is being criticized by some health organizations, including Doctors Without Borders. A spokesperson for the medical nonprofit told reporters, lockdowns and quarantines "end up driving people underground and jeopardising the trust between people and health providers. This leads to the concealment of potential cases and ends up spreading the disease further."

Health agencies have longed blamed mistrust of healthcare workers as a key factor in Ebola's rapid spread. One medical official told The New York Times educating communities about the risks of harboring Ebola patients is a much more effective strategy than lockdowns.

Liberia has also responded to the outbreak with lockdowns: in August, the Liberian government shut down a neighborhood in the capital Monrovia. That lockdown led to protests and clashes between residents and security forces.

The Ebola epidemic shows no signs of slowing down, and agencies around the world are racing to develop a treatment. Yesterday, the WHO greenlit the use of blood transfusions from Ebola survivors to combat the virus.

Read Full Story

People are Reading