Like U.N., Sierra Leone takes bold step, launches 'unprecedented' action

In Sierra Leone, about 30,000 people are going house-to-house covering 1.5 million households between Friday, September 19 and Sunday, September 21 to listen to community concerns, provide appropriate knowledge about Ebola  transmission, prevention, care and treatment, and to encourage families to take sick patients to treatment or observation facilities.

According to official information reported by the Minsitry of Health and Sanitation to the World Health Organization Thursday, the incidence of Ebola virus disease in Sierra Leone is still rising, with over 200 new cases reported in the past week.

Transmission remains high in the capital, Freetown, and surrounding urban areas. The umbers of newly reported cases appear to have stabilized in Kailahun and Kenema, but a number of other districts have reported an increase in the number of new cases over the past week: Port Loko (a district adjacent to Freetown), Bo, Bombali, and Tonkolili, the WHO said. 

Reporting for Agence France Presse, Rod Mac Johnson called the three-day shutdown launched on Friday "controversial," as the UN Security Council declared the deadly outbreak a threat to world peace.

"Most of Sierra Leone's population of six million were confined to their homes from midnight (0000 GMT), with only essential workers such as health professionals and security forces exempt from the lockdown," Mac-Johnson wrote.

Health experts have criticised the shutdown, arguing that coercive measures to stem the epidemic could backfire and would be extremely hard to implement, he added.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) warned that lockdowns may end up driving people underground "and jeopardise the trust between people and health providers".

But the government said it was determined to proceed with the move. "Rain or shine, the shutdown exercise is going to go ahead. During the three days... the job is going to get done," said Steven Gaojia, head of the government's emergency Ebola operation centre.

The extreme measure comes amid mounting global concern over the Ebola epidemic, which has so far killed more than 2,600 people in west Africa.

The table below summarizes data from the country SITREPs as of 10 September 2014:

Countries New cases/deaths Cumulative number Health Care Workers Cases Deaths Cases Deaths Cases Deaths
Guinea 22 2 899 568 57 28
Liberia 59 46 2407 1296 169 82
Nigeria 0 0 21 8 11 5
Sierra Leone 42 3 1478 536 56 30
Senegal 0 0 1 0 0 0
DR Congo 3 1 66 37 9 7
Total 126 52 4872 2445 302 152

Are citizens of any nation prepared to be locked in their homes for days on end? asked NaturalNews
in an article with a blaring headline: "Medical martial law declared in Sierra Leone; Ebola victims hunted like fugitives in house-to-house searches"

The martial law action of deliberately causing the shutdown of an entire nation and forcing all its citizens to "shelter in place" in their own homes for three days has never been invoked in the history of the modern world. 

But in a passionate broadcast to his people, hours before the nation went into quarantine, President Ernest Koroma summoned political will and leadership to rally support for the unprecedented action in one of the most important speeches of his second term:

Fellow citizens, Let me also state that the three-day Ose to Ose Ebola Tok by itself will not end the outbreak. But if everyone follows the messages given to you by the teams visiting your homes; the campaign will greatly help to reverse the increasing trend of disease transmission and become a very big boost to our collective efforts to stop the outbreak.

The survival and dignity of each and every Sierra Leonean is at stake; all what we have toiled for as a people is at stake; this is a fight for each and every one of us; this is a fight for this land that we love. We have shown great resolve as a nation to overcome tragedy and become a symbol of recovery, democracy and peace in the world. Early this year the United Nations hailed us as a symbol of recovery; the world hailed us as an example of growth, democracy and great possibilities.

Like all countries, we have our challenges, we have our weaknesses, we have our differences, and we have accounts of efforts we could have exerted in a much better way. But we are also a nation with a proud inheritance of achievements, and we are a nation with a positive place in the story of the resurgence of Africa, we must not allow Ebola to remove us from this story of resurgence.

Read the full speech here

We are country of faith, resilience, and a great resolve for life and growth. We have surprised many before who thought this country shall not rise again; we have collectively taken many strides which many countries affected by war would only dream about. We must do it again.


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