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The view from Sierra Leone as it faces a government-imposed Ebola lockdown

A soldier inspects a woman with an infrared thermometer for signs of fever, one of the symptoms of Ebola, at a check point in Nikabo, a village in Kenema, Sierra Leone.
A soldier inspects a woman with an infrared thermometer for signs of fever, one of the symptoms of Ebola, at a check point in Nikabo, a village in Kenema, Sierra Leone.
Anadolu Agency

During Sierra Leone's bloody 11-year civil war from 1991 to 2002 there were no government-imposed lockdowns, even though people would often hide in their homes out of fear of reprisal from the rebels.

But now, thanks to the Ebola outbreak, the government has announced a three-day mandatory lockdown. From September 19 to 21, citizens of the country will not be allowed to leave their homes in an attempt to stop the spread of Ebola and isolate new cases.

Ishmeal Alfred Charles, who has been working on the Ebola front-line in Freetown, Sierra Leone, says people are devastated about the drastic move. This is what he told Vox:

"This is the first time a lockdown is happening under normal circumstances. During the rebel wars, people did it on their own, for their own safety.

It is only under Ebola we have been faced with such an unfortunate situation.

I feel so terrible about the lockdown. It will multiply the psychosocial impact.

No schooling, no business, nothing is happening. Poverty is on the increase. People are suffering and dying not only from Ebola but from its effects.

This is a sad times for us."

According to the Guardian, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) has raised concern about the measure.

An MSF spokeswoman said, "It has been our experience that lockdowns and quarantines do not help control Ebola as they end up driving people underground and jeopardizing the trust between people and health providers. This leads to the concealment of potential cases and ends up seading the disease further."

This has been the largest Ebola outbreak in history, with a death toll that has now surpassed 2,000. Sierra Leone has registered 491 deaths as a result of the virus.

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