Sierra Leone declares Ebola public health emergency | News | DW | 31.07.2014
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Sierra Leone declares Ebola public health emergency

Sierra Leone has declared a public health emergency to tackle the worst epidemic of Ebola in history. President Ernest Bai Koroma has said epicenters of the virus will be quarantined for at least two months.

Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma declared a public health emergency late on Wednesday as a "more robust approach to deal with the Ebola outbreak" according to a statement quoted by Reuters news agency.

The outbreak is the worst ever of the virus and has claimed at least 729 lives since March in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization.

Koroma said new health safety measures will initially last 60 to 90 days and will include quarantining epicenters of the deadly virus.

Koroma also said that following several attacks on health workers, police and military will support health officers and non-governmental organizations in carrying out their work unhindered, as well as restricting movement to and from epicenters.

The new measures will include house-to-house searches in order to trace victims and quarantine them. New protocols have also been put in place for passengers arriving and departing from Lungi International Airport just outside the country's capital, Freetown.

Earlier on Wednesday, neighboring Liberia announced similarly stringent anti-Ebola measures.

Koroma cancelled his trip to Washington for a US-Africa summit next week. Instead, he will hold an emergency meeting with regional leaders on Friday.

Ebola, called viral hemorrhagic fever, has no vaccine or specific treatment.

Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and in some cases internal and external bleeding or even organ failure. The virus has had a 60 percent mortality rate among known cases in the current outbreak.

kb/hc (Reuters, dpa)

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