Sierra Leone begins three-day shutdown to slow Ebola outbreak

Health workers began knocking on doors across Sierra Leone on Friday in hopes to find and isolate Ebola patients who have resisted going to health centers. 'If people don't have access to the right information, we need to bring life-saving messages to them,' said a UNICEF Representative in Sierra Leone.

Thousands of health workers began knocking on doors across Sierra Leone on Friday in search of hidden Ebola cases as the entire West African nation was locked down in their homes in an unprecedented effort to combat the deadly disease.

Authorities hope to find and isolate Ebola patients who have resisted going to health centers, often seen only as places to die. Some international health experts have warned that such a strategy could backfire especially if there are not enough beds at treatment centers for all the new patients found during the three-day lockdown which began Friday.

UNICEF said the measure provides an opportunity to tell people how to protect themselves.

"If people don't have access to the right information, we need to bring life-saving messages to them, where they live, at their doorsteps," said Roeland Monasch, UNICEF Representative in Sierra Leone. In a statement, the U.N. children's fund said the operation needs to be carried out "in a sensitive and respectful manner."

During this first-ever Ebola outbreak in West Africans, some people have lashed out at health workers, accusing them of bringing the dreaded disease. Others don't believe it exists. Many villagers have reacted with fear and panic when outsiders have come to conduct awareness campaigns, and this week such an encounter resulted in deaths.

Six people have been arrested in the killings of eight people in Guinea who had been on an Ebola awareness campaign there, the Guinean government said Friday. The team, accompanied by journalists, had gone to the village of Womey on Tuesday. Another team dispatched to look for nine missing members discovered eight bodies, including those of three local journalists, a hospital administrator and several health officials, the government said.

Only one of the missing, the son of a Womey deputy administrative leader, was found alive, hiding in the area, the government statement said.

In an address to the nation late Thursday, Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma said health workers would be handing out soap and that once a house had been visited it would be marked with a sticker. He urged Sierra Leoneans to abide by the order.

"The survival and dignity of each and every Sierra Leonean is at stake; all what we have toiled for as a people is at stake; this is a fight for each and every one of us; this is a fight for this land that we love," he said.

More than 2,600 people have died across West Africa, with more than half the fatalities recorded in Liberia.

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama pledged 3,000 troops and the first increased American military aid arrived in Liberia on Thursday, according to the U.S. Embassy there.

The C-17 U.S. military aircraft brought a team of seven military personnel along with some equipment on Thursday. An embassy statement said more supplies and personnel are expected in the coming days.


Associated Press writer Jonathan Paye-Layleh in Monrovia, Liberia, and Boubacar Diallo in Conakry, Guinea, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Sierra Leone begins three-day shutdown to slow Ebola outbreak
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today