DAKAR: Liberia announced Wednesday the quarantine of a number of communities and the closure of schools across the country, the toughest measures yet imposed by a West African government in a bid to halt the worst Ebola outbreak on record. Security forces in Liberia were ordered to enforce the measures, part of an action plan that included placing all nonessential government workers on 30-day compulsory leave.
As of July 23, 672 deaths have been blamed on Ebola in Liberia, neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone, according to World Health Organization figures. Liberia accounted for just under one-fifth of those deaths.
“This is a major public health emergency. It is fierce, deadly and many of our countrymen are dying and we need to act to stop the spread,” Lewis Brown, Liberia’s information minister, told Reuters.
Referring to the orders issued to the security forces to impose the plan, he added: “We are hoping there will be a level of understanding and that there will not be a need for exceptional force.”
Earlier Wednesday, health officials said an isolation unit for Ebola victims in Monrovia, was overrun with cases and health workers are being forced to treat up to 20 new patients in their homes.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 31, 2014, on page 11.