Residents Flee Sierra Leone to Escape Lockdown – Ebola Burial Crew Attacked East of Freetown
Sierra Leone instituted an unprecedented three day lockdown this week in the country’s efforts to fight the Ebola outbreak.
Several thousand defied the three-day lockdown by crossing the border into Guinea without going through health controls.
A burial crew was attacked east of Freetown while they were trying to bury the bodies of five victims.
Some in Sierra Leone ran away from their homes Saturday and others clashed with health workers trying to bury dead Ebola victims as the country struggled through the second day of an unprecedented lockdown to combat the deadly disease.
Despite these setbacks, officials said most of Sierra Leone’s 6 million people were complying with orders to stay at home as nearly 30,000 volunteers and health care workers fanned out across the country to distribute soap and information on how to prevent Ebola.
The virus, spread by contact with bodily fluids, has killed than 560 people in Sierra Leone and more than 2,600 in West Africa since the outbreak began last December, according to the World Health Organization. It is killing about half of the people it infects.
The streets of the capital, Freetown, were empty Saturday except for the four-person teams going door to door with kits bearing soap, cards listing Ebola symptoms, stickers to mark houses visited and a tally to record suspected cases.
Among the volunteers was Idrissa Kargbo, a well-known marathoner who has qualified for races on three continents but whose training and career have been stymied by the outbreak…
…In a district 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Freetown, police were called in Saturday to help a burial team that came under attack by residents as they were trying to bury the bodies of five Ebola victims, Sgt. Edward Momoh Brima Lahai said.
A witness told state television the burial team initially had to abandon the five bodies in the street and flee. Lahai said later the burials were successfully completed after police reinforcements arrived. The bodies of Ebola victims are very contagious and must be buried by special teams.
In northern Sierra Leone, health worker Lamin Unisa Camara said Saturday he had received reports that some residents had run away from their homes to avoid being trapped inside during the lockdown.