Sierra Leone declares Ebola emergency

July 31, 2014, 10:34am

Sierra Leone declares Ebola emergency

 

Sierra Leone's president has declared a public health emergency to curb the deadly Ebola outbreak.

Ernest Bai Koroma said the epicentres of the outbreak in the east would be quarantined and asked the security forces to enforce the measures.

The UN says more than 670 people in West Africa have died of Ebola since February - 224 of them in Sierra Leone.

This includes Dr Sheik Umar Khan who led Sierra Leone's fight against the virus. His funeral is on Thursday.

As part of the new measures to contain the viral haemorrhagic fever, travellers at airports will have to wash their hands with disinfectant and have their temperatures checked, President Koroma said in a statement.

The president also announced that he was cancelling a visit to Washington for the US-Africa summit next week because of the crisis.

His measures follow tough anti-Ebola policies introduced this week in neighbouring Liberia, where schools have been closed and some communities are to be quarantined.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia and Kenya are to begin screening all passengers arriving from West Africa.

In a statement, Ethiopian Airlines said ground and on-board staff would have also been sensitised on how to handle suspected cases of the virus.

Earlier this week, two airlines - Asky, a regional carrier, and Nigeria's Arik Air - suspended flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The outbreak - the world's deadliest to date - was first reported in Guinea in February. It then spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone, and a person who travelled from Liberia to Nigeria died of the virus shortly after arriving in Lagos last week.

Initial flu-like symptoms can include a sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat, and spreads through contact with an infected person's bodily fluids.

Ebola kills up to 90% of those infected, but patients have a better chance of survival if they receive early treatment.

Source, BBC