Streets in the capital of Sierra Leone are deserted as the West African state begins a contested, three-day lockdown in a bid to halt the worst Ebola outbreak on record. Sarah Toms reports.
The capital of Sierra Leone resembles a ghost town. Downtown Freeown is deserted, as the city begins a three day lockdown in a bid to stop the deadly Ebola virus from spreading. A few police cars and ambulances are the only traffic on the otherwise empty streets. (SOUNDBITE) (Krio) HOUSE WIFE AND WEST-END FREETOWN RESIDENT, MARIAM BANGURA, SAYING: "As they are fighting this Ebola, we pray that it will be eradicated, that's what we are praying for. " Nearly 30,000 health workers and volunteers are hoping to visit every household in this country of six million people by Sunday. They check on residents identifying new cases of Ebola, offering advice. Each home they visit is marked with chalk. The President urged people to heed the emergency measures. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ERNEST BAI KOROMA, PRESIDENT OF SIERRA LEONE, SAYING: "Anyone who is not careful can endanger themselves and others that they love. These are extraordinary times, and extra-ordinary times require extraordinary measures." But not everyone agrees with them. Markets are closed and food is hard to obtain. Aid agencies say people go underground to conceal infections from the authorities. But at least 562 people in Sierra Leone alone have died from the disease and the government is determined to go to extreme lengths to bring it under control.