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Sierra Leone Begins Ebola Lockdown     09/19 06:37

   FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) -- Thousands of health workers began knocking on 
doors across Sierra Leone on Friday in search of hidden Ebola cases with the 
entire West African nation locked down in their homes for three days in an 
unprecedented effort to combat the deadly disease.

   Authorities hope to find and isolate Ebola patients who have resisted going 
to health centers, which are often seen only as places to die. International 
health experts, including Doctors Without Borders, have warned such a strategy 
could backfire especially if there are not enough beds at treatment centers for 
all the new patients found.

   In an address to the nation late Thursday, President Ernest Bai Koroma said 
health workers would be handing out soap and that once a house had been visited 
it would be marked with a sticker. He urged Sierra Leoneans to abide by the 
order.

   "The survival and dignity of each and every Sierra Leonean is at stake; all 
what we have toiled for as a people is at stake; this is a fight for each and 
every one of us; this is a fight for this land that we love," he said.

   More than 2,600 people have died across West Africa, with more than half the 
fatalities recorded in Liberia.

   Earlier this week, President Barack Obama pledged 3,000 troops and the first 
increased American military aid arrived in Liberia on Thursday, according to 
the U.S. Embassy there.

   The C-17 U.S. military aircraft brought a team of seven military personnel 
along with some equipment on Thursday. An embassy statement said more supplies 
and personnel are expected in the coming days.

   Meanwhile, six people have been arrested in connection with the killings of 
eight people in Guinea who had been on an Ebola awareness campaign in a rural 
area, the Guinean government said Friday. The team, accompanied by journalists, 
had gone to the village of Womey on Tuesday. Another team dispatched to Womey 
to look for nine missing members discovered eight bodies, including those of 
three local journalists, a hospital administrator and several health officials, 
the government said in a statement.

   Only one of the missing, the son of a Womey deputy administrative leader, 
was found alive, and hiding in the area, the statement said.

   Many villagers in West Africa have reacted with fear and panic when 
outsiders have come to conduct awareness campaigns and have even attacked 
health clinics, believing they are spreading the disease.


(KA)


 
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