The most widespread Ebola epidemic in history is showing slow, but sure signs of dying out, as two out of the three West African countries that still have an active outbreak are making significant progress towards getting rid of it. However, this doesn’t mean that the virus isn’t still claiming its victims by the numbers in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
In Sierra Leone, streets of major cities will mostly be empty throughout the weekend, as president Ernest Bai Koroma ordered a full lockdown for the country’s six million people, which started Friday at 06:00 AM local time and will end Sunday at 06:00 PM. During this period, the only ones allowed on the streets will be healthcare workers, who will also try and discover hidden cases of infection with the virus. Exceptions for the lockdown will be made for religious prayers/church services.
The lockdown comes as 33 new Ebola cases were discovered last week throughout the country, a sharp rise after a couple of weeks in which numbers of new infections were at their lowest since the start of the epidemic in late 2013. As such, the lockdown was put in place out of fear that the virus might regain its former deathly rate.
On the other side, the last known sufferer from the disease in Liberia died on Friday while being at a treatment center, as stated by the country’s ebola response team chief Francis Ketteh. Reports suggest that the woman may have contracted the disease sexually. At any rate, if no other cases appear in the country over the next forty-two days – representing double the time needed for the virus to end its incubation period – then Liberian government officials may declare the country Ebola-free.
As the epidemic has its highs and lows, international boasting about merits seems to be the name of the game in China. The Chinese official press agency Xinhua posted an article on the English version of its site in which it praises the country’s implication in the Ebola fight as being exemplary. The news agency pointed out China’s aid to Sierra Leone in particular, stating that it was one of the first to offer aid to the country when the epidemic start, and that the most important part of it was that the help came with “no strings attached”.
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