Sierra Leone plans three-day 'complete shutdown' to control Ebola outbreak

MSF medical workers put on protective clothing at an MSF Ebola treatment facility in Kailahun, on Aug 15, 2014. Sierra Leone is to enforce three days of "complete shutdown" across the country later this month in a bid to contain the Ebola epidem
MSF medical workers put on protective clothing at an MSF Ebola treatment facility in Kailahun, on Aug 15, 2014. Sierra Leone is to enforce three days of "complete shutdown" across the country later this month in a bid to contain the Ebola epidemic, a government spokesman told AFP on Saturday, Sept 6, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

FREETOWN (AFP) - Sierra Leone is to enforce three days of "complete shutdown" across the country later this month in a bid to contain the Ebola epidemic, a government spokesman told AFP on Saturday.

The measure, which will come into force from Sept 19, means pedestrians and vehicles on non-essential business will be barred from movement for 72 hours.

"This will be strictly adhered to without exception," government spokesman Abdulai Bayratay told AFP by telephone.

The authorities in Freetown will use the 72-hour quarantine window to give medical staff access to patients who have yet to be transferred to treatment centres, Mr Bayratay said. “In this regard, health workers as well as health-related NGO personnel will make house-to-house checks on homes for likely Ebola sufferers that relatives have hidden,” he added.

Mr Bayratay said the shutdown would be aided by the arrival of several new ambulances and up to 30 military vehicles, and could be repeated in future.The quarantine plan was announced after the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Friday that the death toll from Ebola since the start of the year had topped 2,000.The virus has claimed 2,097 lives out of 3,944 people infected in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the United Nations health body said.