The northern parts of Sierra Leone will be locked down for five days as a measure to contain the Ebola epidemic, with Christmas celebrations being the only exception.
“Muslims and Christians are not allowed to hold services in mosques and churches throughout the lockdown except for Christians on Christmas Day (Thursday),” Alie Kamara, resident minister for the Northern Region, told Agence France-Presse.
Shops and markets will be closed and “no unauthorised vehicles or motorcycle taxis” will be allowed to circulate “except those officially assigned to Ebola-related assignment,” said Kamara.
Sierra Leone recently overtook Liberia as the country with the highest number of Ebola infections, in an epidemic that has killed more than 7,500 people, mainly in west Africa.
Sierra Leone Deputy Communication Minister Theo Nicol said that the lockdown “is meant for us to get an accurate picture of the situation,” adding: “Other districts will carry on with their own individual lockdown after this if they deemed it necessary.”
Six of the country’s 14 departments have restrictions on the movement of people, and the government has announced a restriction on large Christmas and New Year gatherings.