Ebola virus: Sierra Leone imposes four-day lockdown on all residents

Residents will be confined to their homes in an effort to slow the outbreak

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Sierra Leone will impose a four-day, countrywide "lockdown" forcing residents to stay in their homes in an escalation of efforts to halt the spread of Ebola, a senior official in the president's office said on Friday.

Citizens will not be allowed to leave their homes between 18 and 21 September in a bid to prevent the disease from spreading further.

The move is also to allow health workers to identify cases in the early stages of the illness, said Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, a presidential advisor on the country's Ebola task force.

He said: "The aggressive approach is necessary to deal with the spread of Ebola once and for all.”

Sierra Leone has recorded 491 of the total of suspected, probable and confirmed Ebola deaths, according to the latest UN figures.

Over 20,000 people will be recruited to enforce the lockdown. Thousands of police and soldiers have already been deployed to enforce the quarantining of towns in Sierra Leone's worst-hit regions near the border with Guinea.

Official figures from the World Health Organisation show the Ebola outbreak spread rapidly last month, killing over 1,000 people in August alone. The current death toll stands at 1,900 and there have been 3,685 cases reported since the outbreak.

Liberia also closed off a slum last month in the capital of Monrovia for more than a week in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

Additional reporting by agencies

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