The African nation of Sierra Leone has declared a state of public emergency in the wake of the largest Ebola outbreak in history.
President Ernest Bai Koroma will call in security forces to quarantine epicenters of the deadly virus, according to Reuters.
The measures resembled a tough anti-Ebola package announced by neighboring Liberia on Wednesday evening. Koroma announced he was cancelling a visit to Washington for a U.S.-Africa summit next week because of the crisis and would instead hold an emergency meeting with regional leaders in Guinea on Friday.
“I hereby proclaim a State of Public Emergency to enable us take a more robust approach to deal with the Ebola outbreak,” he said in a speech late on Wednesday, adding that the measures would initially last between 60 and 90 days. “All epicentres of the disease will be quarantined.”
Koroma said that the police and the military would restrict movements to and from epicentres, and would provide support to health officers and NGOs to do their work unhindered, following a number of attacks on healthworkers by local communities.
The virus, first detected in 1976, has been blamed for 672 deaths in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization. The virus has a mortality rate of between 50 and 90 percent. The current outbreak stands at 60 percent.
President Koroma also said house-to-house searches would be implemented to trace Ebola victims and quarantine them.
He also said that new protocols had been established for passengers arriving and departing Lungi International Airport outside Freetown, but he did not provide further details.
Meanwhile, the Peace Corps has begun evacuating volunteers from outbreak areas to protect them from the Ebola virus.
The agency announced Wednesday that it would temporarily remove its volunteers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. There are currently 340 members assigned to those three countries, with most of them working in education.
There is no vaccine or cure for the virus, which causes fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, vomiting and in some cases, internal and external bleeding. We’ll keep you updated with the latest in outbreak news.
For quick facts about the deadly virus, click here.