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Sierra Leone quarantines one million to stop Ebola

The government of Sierra Leone has imposed a lockdown on three more Ebola "hotspots" to stop the disease from spreading. A third of the country's population is now under quarantine.

Sierra Leone has begun a quarantine

of more than one million people in five of the country's 14 districts. The restriction means that only people delivering essential services will be able to enter and move within these areas.

Areas in the capital Conakry and other parts of the country will be isolated when more cases are identified, a government statement said, following President Ernest Bai Koroma's address on the eve of the latest lockdown.

The government had organized a nationwide three-day shutdown and house-to-house campaign which ended on Sunday. Health activists collected around 100 bodies and 200 patients during this period.

The quarantine has been imposed on nearly one third of the country, which has a population of six million. A total of 1,813 citizens have been infected with the disease which has claimed the lives of 593.

"Nigeria is Ebola-free"

"Nigeria is Ebola free," Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan announced in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly, raising hopes for West Africa, which is suffering its deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history.

The rapid spread of the deadly Ebola virus also appears to have been contained in Guinea, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Thursday.

"The situation in Guinea, although still of grave concern, appears to have stabilized," the WHO said in a statement, noting that new infections had gone down to between 75 and 100 cases week on week since mid-August.

The tropical disease

, which induces flu-like symptoms and causes severe internal and external hemorrhaging, has infected more than 1,000 people in Guinea and killed more than half of that number.

The WHO also asked for help in Liberia, which has been hit the hardest by the tropical disease. The organization said it needed assistance in setting up 1,550 more bed spaces in the West African country where the disease has claimed 1,600 lives and infected over 3,000.

Fight against Ebola far from over

The WHO said on Thursday that 6,263 people had been infected since the virus emerged in Guinea last December and that Ebola had claimed 2,917 lives. The health watchdog also warned that without faster prevention efforts,

the disease could infect hundreds of thousands by the end of the year

.

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama pledged to send 3,000 troops to aid local health workers in West Africa during his address to the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.

World leaders attending the UN summit are also scheduled to discuss efforts to combat the deadly disease in a meeting chaired by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday.

mg/lw (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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