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1,500 troops deploy for Sierra Leone Ebola quarantine

A member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. (AFP/Cellou Binani)

FREETOWN: More than 1,500 police and soldiers have been mobilized in Sierra Leone to enforce quarantine measures in areas affected by the deadly Ebola virus, the government said Saturday.

Defense Minister Palo Conteh said half the troops would be deployed in Kenema and Kailahun, two eastern districts that have been hardest hit by the outbreak, and which were placed under quarantine Thursday.

The rest of the troops will focus on the western region, which includes the capital Freetown, and the north.

"The general public should adhere to the advice of health personnel - don't move around unnecessarily ... and cooperate with the security forces," Conteh told the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation.

"I have warned soldiers to show empathy as we are not going into combat. These are people who are stressed out, who have lost friends and relatives."

He said a total of 2,000 soldiers were available for deployment.

Health Minister Miatta Kargbo said the response to the quarantine measures "so far is positive."

"We are all in solidarity over the quarantine in both districts where 95 percent of all confirmed cases are within that axis," he said, referring to Kenema and Kailahun.

World Health Organization chief Margaret Chan said in Geneva Friday that the epidemic in west Africa which has killed nearly 1,000 people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria was the worst of its kind in four decades.

 

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