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Ebola lockdown in Sierra Leone extended for 2 weeks

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A woman walks past signs warning of Ebola in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Authorities in Sierra Leone have extended the Ebola lockdown in the northern Tonkolili district of the West African country for two weeks in a bid to contain the outbreak.

“The lockdown is extended for another two weeks to intensify monitoring efforts by all sectors in the district as we need this mopping up operation until January 17,” Tonkolili coordinator Salieu Bah said on Sunday.

He also added that people had been “reluctant to comply with health rules” by “late reporting of suspected Ebola cases and undertaking secret burials.”

A five-day lockdown had been announced by the government in the badly-hit north of the country late December.

The lockdown was extended as the government adopted “additional screening measures” at the international airport in the capital Freetown, after two workers seemingly caught the disease.

Sierra Leone’s Health Minister Abubakarr Fofanah said the monitoring of workers at the airport would be done “on a 24-hour basis to detect any suspicion of Ebola on a worker or traveler.”

“A case of Ebola was detected and confirmed … on Friday involving a person who worked at the airport up to mid-December but had not worked since that time,” the National Ebola Response Center (NERC) said.

Another airport worker who had been in contact with the aforementioned person has not come to work since Christmas Day, apparently due to developing the disease.

The Ebola outbreak has killed nearly 8,000 people around the world, almost all of them in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the three West African countries hardest hit by the disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

Ebola is a form of hemorrhagic fever, whose symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting, and bleeding. The virus spreads through direct contact with infected blood, feces, or sweat. It can be also spread through sexual contact or the unprotected handling of contaminated corpses.


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