Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma has widened a quarantine to include three more districts in an attempt to curb the spread of Ebola.
Port Loko and Bombali in the north and Moyamba in the south are in effect to be sealed off immediately.
Nearly 600 people have died of the virus in Sierra Leone and two eastern districts have been isolated since the beginning of August.
The move follows a three-day nationwide lockdown that ended on Sunday night.
New figures released by the UN World Health Organization show that 2,917 people have died in the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, with Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea worst affected.
During Sierra Leone’s three-day curfew, more than a million households were surveyed and 130 new cases discovered, the authorities say.
President Koroma said the lockdown had been a success but had exposed “areas of greater challenges”, which was why other areas were being quarantined.
Only people delivering essential services can enter and circulate within areas under quarantine.
According to AFP news agency, the extension of the indefinite quarantine means more than a third of Sierra Leone’s 6.1 million population now finds itself unable to move freely.
Ebola virus disease (EVD)
- Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
- Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva
- Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 70%
- Incubation period is two to 21 days
- There is no proven vaccine or cure
- Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
- Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host