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Sierra Leone enforces curfew as Ebola virus resurfaces in north west

Sierra Leone has enforced a curfew in the face of renewed outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus in the north west of the country. The government has extended the state of emergency.

Sierra Leone's president has announced a three-week curfew in an effort to curb a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus.

There were 15 new Ebola cases in Sierra Leone in the week ending June 7, according to the World Health Organization. It is the highest weekly total since late March.

President Ernest Bai Koroma announced the curfew for parts of the north west of the country on state television on Friday: "I have instructed the security to institute chiefdom-level curfew and restriction on movement from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. in Kambia and Port Loko districts, with immediate effect," Koroma said in a televised address.

"The curfew restrictions and the soldier activities will last for a 21-day period. Offenders detained during this 21-day period are to be taken to courts of law thereafter," the president said.

"There will be night patrols, so the idea is to stop people from escaping using vehicles. If they run away on foot they can only get so far," OB Sisay, an official involved in "Operation Northern Push" for Port Loko and Kambia said on Friday.

Supermarkets and restaurants are to be allowed to operate so long as they adhere to Ebola prevention protocols such as temperature screening of employees and customers.

Eleven of the country's 14 districts have recorded 42 days without an Ebola case. That is the benchmark for declaring an epidemic over. Another district has not registered a new case in two weeks.

Sierra Leone's parliament this week extended the country's state of public health emergency for three months. The country has previously used lockdowns to keep residents in their homes so that authorities can attempt to identify the sick who were not being treated at Ebola centers.

Ebola has claimed more than 11,000 lives in West Africa since December 2013, including more than 3,900 in Sierra Leone.

jm/bk (AFP, Reuters)

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