Sierra Leone to ban Xmas parties, plans
"surge" to curb Ebola spread
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[December 13, 2014]
By Bate Felix and Umaru Fofana
DAKAR/FREETOWN (Reuters) - Sierra Leone
plans to ban parties and other festivities over the Christmas and New
Year's holidays and to launch a "surge" to cut the risk of Ebola
spreading further in the West African country now with the most
infections, officials said on Friday.
Sierra Leone is struggling to reduce the spread of the viral
hemorrhagic fever as the death toll in West Africa continues to
rise, fueled in part by increasing infections in the country.
Figures from the World Health Organization on Friday showed 6,583
people have died from the disease in three states in West Africa -
Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia - out of 18,188 cases.
"The government is planning to keep people indoors during Christmas
through Boxing Day and New Year," said Jarrah Kawusu-Konte, a
spokesman for Sierra Leone's president.
He told Reuters that the government would deploy soldiers across the
country to enforce the measure, which would include a ban on parties
and other gatherings.
"When you have parties, the risks are very high. We are very anxious
to break the chain of transmission through parties and gatherings,"
Kawusu-Konte said. He did not specify the date when the ban would
EBOLA RESPONSE SURGE
In addition to the ban on gatherings, Sierra Leonean authorities are
also planning what they have called a "surge" in their response in
and around the capital Freetown, aimed at stemming the increasing
rise of Ebola infections.
For several weeks, most of the new infections have been showing up
in and around Freetown. At least more than five areas in the far
west and far east of Freetown will be particularly targeted where
epidemiologists say sick people still refuse to report to treatment
Data published by WHO on Friday showed that there were some 8,086
cases in Sierra Leone, with nearly 1,900 deaths.
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The month-long surge, which will start on Wednesday, is aimed at
strengthening the country's response, especially in terms of tracing
people who have contracted Ebola, according to Palo Conteh, the head
of Sierra Leone's National Ebola Response Center (NERC).
"We want to get sick people out of their homes and take them to
treatment centers, more of which we will be opening next week,"
Conteh said in Freetown.
NERC Coordinator Stephen Gaojia said there would be "door-to-door"
visits as people were still dying at home because they were refusing
to report to health facilities even when infected.
He added that 900 beds would be made available to take in the sick
in order to reduce the transmission rate in the western area after
New Year's Day and to ultimately stop transmission of Ebola.
(Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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