Starting just after midnight, residents of Sierra Leone will be confined to their homes for a three-day lockdown.
It’s the latest government plan meant to stem the tide of Ebola cases, which exceeded 1,500 last week in Sierra Leone.
But the plan has not won the support of the international medical community — and is causing concern among Sierra Leoneans as well.
"Everyone is rushing to the markets and stores to stock up on food to get ready for these three days, when they’re not going to be allowed to leave their houses," says NPR’s Anders Kelto, reporting from Freetown, the capital city.
Stephen Gaojia, head of the Ebola Emergency Operations Center in Sierra Leone, bristles at the word “lockdown.” He says 28,000 volunteers have been recruited and trained to go door-to-door throughout the country, educating families about Ebola.
Earlier this month, the government’s health ministry said it would actively seek out Ebola patients, but now it says it won’t. “This process is not a lockdown, neither is it a shutdown, neither is it a root-out exercise,” Gaojia told All Things Considered Wednesday. “This is more a psycho-educational exercise.”
Instead, Gaojia says, it’s a time for people to “stay together to do some reflection, engage in prayer, generate some kind of family discussion about Ebola.”
Photo: A woman washes clothes in a slum in Freetown. (Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images)