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Ebola isn't over: Guinea closes border as Sierra Leone goes into lockdown to combat spread of disease


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(NaturalNews) It's been over a year since the largest ever outbreak of Ebola was officially declared in West Africa, and the hemorrhagic virus is still ravaging the region, according to new reports. Though new cases of Ebola have reportedly tapered off in Sierra Leone, and all but disappeared in neighboring Liberia, Guinea is still being hit hard, which has prompted a new phase of border closures.

According to The Washington Post, Guinea closed its border with Sierra Leone recently after a three-day lockdown was announced in Sierra Leone that prompted residents to try to flee to neighboring Guinea. Already stricken with a continued stream of new Ebola cases, Guinea decided to take a more drastic approach to help eliminate the disease throughout the country, starting with its entry points from Sierra Leone.

Guinean President Alpha Conde announced that a new phase of emergency measures would be "reinforced" for a period of 45 days in five separate districts throughout the country, including some along the border with Sierra Leone. These new measures coincide with mandatory border closures aimed at stopping Sierra Leoneans from trying to escape their own country to avoid mandatory lockdowns.

Earlier, Guinea had simply tried to monitor those crossing its borders to look for apparent Ebola symptoms, turning away those deemed high-risk. But this method hasn't worked, say authorities, who say keeping the country insulated from outsiders is the best approach to take at the current time. But for some Guineans like Djalima Balde, who was visiting Freetown, Sierra Leone, at the time, the new rules have left her with no option for returning home.

"We weren't given any information," Balde is quoted as saying, as she stood at a border crossing trying to return home to Guinea. "I'm here with my three children, who are hungry. But they say we can't pass."

Officials in Sierra Leone threaten jail time for anyone who leaves home during Ebola lockdown

Over in Sierra Leone, the three-day lockdown effort has forced 6 million residents to stay indoors or face arrest, according to Reuters. During this time, health officials went door to door looking for hidden Ebola patients and educating local residents about the nature of the virus.

"Tests are being carried out on their blood samples, and the results will be in by Wednesday," stated OB Sisay of the National Ebola Response Center, who helped conduct the sweep that led to a 191% increase in reports of ill patients throughout the western region of the country.

In Freetown, 173 identified patients met an initial case definition for Ebola, according to Sisay. And throughout the rest of the country, there was a 50% increase in the number of sick people reported as a result of the lockdown effort.

The second official lockdown to take place in Sierra Leone, the effort is being hailed as a solid way to ensure that the already-declining infection rate reaches nil at some point in the near future. A source who declined to be identified says that during the lockdown there were 495 reports of illness, 235 of which were suspected to be Ebola, and 961 death alerts.

"There's a lot of resistance," stated Raphael Delhalle, a field coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in Conakry, to The Wall Street Journal about the continued challenges in trying to eradicate Ebola. "The population is still thinking Ebola doesn't exist, or that we are giving them Ebola."

Sources for this article include:

http://www.washingtonpost.com

http://abcnews.go.com

http://af.reuters.com

http://www.wsj.com

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