3 West African countries increase fight to end Ebola
Conakry, Guinea — The West African countries hit hardest by Ebola are ramping up efforts to eradicate the deadly disease using lockdowns, restrictions on burials and a warning to survivors about the potential dangers of unprotected sex.
The region’s Ebola outbreak has killed more than 10,000 people since cases were first recorded more than a year ago, with most of the dead coming from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Sierra Leone, which has seen the most cases, imposed a three-day lockdown that officials hoped would help the country get “total control” over Ebola. The lockdown was expected to conclude on Sunday.
Neighboring Guinea could soon be holding its own lockdowns after President Alpha Conde announced that emergency steps would be “reinforced” for a 45-day period in five districts in the west of the country.
All burials in the affected areas will need to be secured by Red Cross or security forces, and all dead bodies will be systematically tested, Conde said in an address on state television Saturday night. Mourning ceremonies will be restricted to close family.
Conde also said lockdown measures could be implemented as needed.
In Liberia, the government issued a statement Sunday warning survivors of Ebola to abstain from unprotected sex even beyond the 90-day period earlier recommended. The statement was prompted by continued confusion over how the country’s latest Ebola patient — its first in weeks — came down with the disease.
The woman’s boyfriend is an Ebola survivor, raising the possibility of sexual transmission. However, he was released from treatment about six months ago, and Ebola has not been detected in the semen of a survivor for longer than about three months. It is unclear when the woman, who died on Friday, first became symptomatic. The incubation period for Ebola can last up to 21 days.
Sunday’s statement, signed by assistant health minister Tolbert Nyenswah, said survivors “should consider correct and consistent use of condoms for all sexual acts beyond three months until more information is available.”