Africa Sierra Leoneans divided over fresh Ebola lockdown

Sierra Leoneans divided over fresh Ebola lockdown

Thousands of health workers began knocking on doors across Sierra Leone
Thousands of health workers began knocking on doors across Sierra Leone

(AA) – As Sierra Leone starts a three-day lockdown as part of efforts to contain the Ebola virus, residents are divided over orders to stay home.

“I think it’s very timely to get a lockdown again,” Santigie Sankoh, a trader at the central market in the city of Makeni in the northern Bombali district, told The Anadolu Agency.

“We have almost defeated Ebola in Makeni, but now we are getting new cases again,” he noted.

Makeni, a hotspot for Ebola, recently reported a cluster of cases in Rosanda village.

“We need to take these tough measures so we can finish Ebola,” contended Santigie.

President Ernest Bai Koroma recently ordered the lockdown in a bid to finish the virus off once and for all.

“All Sierra Leoneans must stay home for three days,” he said, expanding on a previous order for a lockdown in hot spots including capital Freetown and parts of the country’s north.

People are expected to stay home from 6am on March 27 to 6pm on March 29, while trading activities will be halted countrywide.

Public gatherings are also discouraged.

Dr. Emanuel Conteh, coordinator of the Bombali District Ebola Response Center, said exemptions would be made for mosque and churchgoers.

“Authorities will allow Muslims to observe prayers on Friday between 1pm and 3pm, while church services on Palm Sunday will also go on,” he told AA.

Conteh said people should not be seen around town after 3pm.

He went on to say that health workers and social mobilisers would visit homes to deliver precautionary messages about Ebola.

Ebola – a contagious disease for which there is no known treatment or cure – has killed nearly 10,326 people, mostly in West Africa, according to a March 25 status report issued by the World Health Organization.

In Sierra Leone alone, the virus has claimed at least 3,747 lives.

-Mixed-

Zainab Koroma, a woman in her late 20s, praised the lockdown initiative, voicing hope it would finally put an end to Ebola.

“I just want Ebola to be over in whatever way possible so we can go back to our normal lives,” she told AA. “It’s been a year now; we’re tired.”

“If another lockdown means Ebola will end, let’s do it,” said Koroma.

She urged the government and other state authorities to take the fight against Ebola “seriously.”

Other people, however, are worried about the inconveniences they will have to face for three days.

“Whenever they do this [order a lockdown], I struggle with my children about what we should eat,” said Adama Kamara, a mother of four and a petty trader.

She said there was no need for a lockdown, which, she asserted, would just cause more suffering for people like her and her children.

“If you ask me to sit at home, where do they expect me to get the money to feed my children?” asked Kamara.

A young photographer, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the lockdown would be “a nightmare.”

“I had a bad experience during the last lockdown; my two main concerns are movement and the lack of food,” he told AA.

“I am an unmarried young man, so I live alone. I rely solely on restaurants in town, but all these will be closed during the lockdown,” he lamented.

Gibrila Koroma, a 39-year-old taxi driver, also opposes then lockdown.

“This is completely unfair,” he told AA.

“Most of them are well to do and can afford to stay at home but for a poor driver like me, I can’t,” fumed Koroma, referring to top government officials.

“I don’t have a car of my own and rely on other taxi drivers,” he said. “When get tired in the evening; I do the night shift for them.”

Fatmata Kabia, a 35-year-old hair dresser, is also not happy about the lockdown.

“The lockdown is happening on a weekend when most people have to do their hair,” she told AA.

“I have a family to take care of so I don’t even know where to start,” lamented Kabia.  “The government should have provided some kind of support to poor people for this exercise.”

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