Sierra Leone Begins 3-day Lockdown to Fight Ebola Outbreak
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — The most ambitious and aggressive government campaign against the Ebola epidemic gripping parts of West Africa began on Friday when Sierra Leone ordered everyone in the country to remain indoors for three days, suspending commerce, emptying the streets and halting this beleaguered nation in its tracks in an attempt stop the disease from spreading.
Calling the struggle against Ebola a matter of life or death, the government mustered police officers, soldiers and nearly 30,000 volunteers to go house to house, hoping to educate the country about the dangers of Ebola and identify people who might pass the disease to those around them.
“Some of the things we are asking you to do are difficult, but life is better than these difficulties,” President Ernest Bai Koroma said in an extraordinary radio address on Thursday night explaining the national lockdown.
From the start, the limits of the government campaign were evident. The warnings, mobilization and exhortations quickly clashed with the reality that cases here are surging and the infrastructure to deal with them hardly exists.