Traveling restricted within #Ebola Affected West African countries, West African countries hard-hit by the Ebola virus have issued travel restrictions in an effort to contain the spread of the deadly disease after reports emerged of families hiding sick relatives and abandoning bodies in the streets. Soldiers clamped down on people trying to travel to Liberia’s capital on Thursday from rural areas with high rates of Ebola infection, hours after the president declared a national state of emergency.
Similar efforts were underway in eastern areas of neighboring Sierra Leone after officials there launched “Operation Octopus” to try to keep those sick with Ebola in isolation.
While the outbreak has now reached four countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone account for more than 60 percent of the deaths, according to the World Health Organization. The outbreak that emerged in March has claimed at least 932 lives.
Two American aid workers who caught the virus in Liberia are being treated in the United States, one Saudi national being tested for the virus died on Wednesday in Saudi Arabia, and a Spanish missionary infected with Ebola is being treated in Spain — raising global fears that the virus could possibly spread outside Africa. Still, officials have said Ebola is controllable in countries with strong public health infrastructure. The virus has spread fastest in rural areas of West Africa, largely due to the lack of such infrastructure.
“Ignorance, poverty, as well as entrenched religious and cultural practices continue to exacerbate the spread of the disease especially in the counties,” Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said late on Wednesday as she announced a 90-day state of emergency.
Sirleaf said this Ebola outbreak, the worst recorded in history, requires “extraordinary measures for the very survival of our state and for the protection of the lives of our people.” She warned that some civil liberties could be suspended as needed, and by Thursday soldiers were already restricting movements on the roads to the capital, Monrovia, witnesses said.
Some soldiers were deployed to the crossroads town of Klay about 25 miles west of Monrovia in an effort to stop people from three Ebola-infected counties from coming closer to the capital. Even though authorities are trying to keep more people from reaching Monrovia, the capital has already seen people infected with the virus.
National Health Workers Association President Joseph Tamba said the state of emergency is necessary, but that people should have been given advance notice to buy food ahead of the movement restrictions.