A state of emergency has been declared in Sierra Leone and troops have been called in to quarantine epicentres of Ebola on Thursday. So far, Ebola has taken 627 lives in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization. It has most recently claimed the life of one man in Nigeria.
The Ebola outbreak, which currently has no cure, began in a remote area of eastern Guinea in February, but Sierra Leone now has the highest number of cases.
Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma plans on meeting with the leaders of Liberia and Guinea in Conakry on Friday to discuss the epidemic and that he was cancelling a visit to Washington for a U.S.-Africa summit next week.
“Sierra Leone is in a great fight … Failure is not an option,” Koroma said in a speech late on Wednesday, adding that the state of emergency would initially last between 60 and 90 days. “Extraordinary challenges require extraordinary measures.”
Ebola’s symptoms include external bleeding, massive internal bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea in its final stages. The disease kills up to 90 percent of those infected, though the fatality rate in the current epidemic is running at around 60 percent.
The president said police and the military would enforce a quarantine on all epicentres of the disease, and would provide support to health officers and NGOs to do their work unhindered, following a number of attacks on health workers by local communities.
House-to-house searches would be implemented to trace Ebola victims and homes where the disease was identified would be quarantined until cleared by medical teams, he said, announcing a ban on all public meetings except those related to Ebola.
Liberia on Wednesday announced the closure of all schools across the country and said it was considering quarantining affected communities.
The U.S. Peace Corps said it was withdrawing 340 volunteers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea after two of them came in contact with a person who later died of the virus.
Ebola symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and internal and external bleeding. The fatality rate of the current outbreak is around 60 percent although Ebola can kill up to 90 percent of those who catch it.