#BREAKING: Sierra Leone Cancels Christmas as Ebola Crisis Deepens

AFP just tweeted this breaking news.
Sierra Leone said Friday it was banning any public Christmas
celebrations as the spiralling caseload of Ebola infections continues to
spread alarm.

Soldiers are to be deployed throughout the festive period to force
people venturing onto the streets back indoors, the government’s Ebola
response unit said.

Palo Conteh, head of the department, told reporters in the capital
Freetown there would be “no Christmas and New Year celebrations this
year”.

“We will ensure that everybody remains at home to reflect on Ebola,” he said.

“Military personnel will be on the streets at Christmas and the New
Year to stop any street celebrations,” he said, without saying which
areas would be targeted.

While Islam is the dominant religion in Sierra Leone, more than a
quarter of the population is Christian and public gatherings and
entertainment are common during the holiday period.

Conteh did not give the exact dates of the crackdown or list any
exceptions. During previous local and nationwide anti-Ebola curfews,
people were allowed out to worship and for “essential business”.

Under current emergency regulations, bars and nightspots have already
been shut down and public gatherings outlawed but there is no general
ban on going outdoors or working.

Sierra Leone, which has overtaken Liberia to become the country worst
affected by Ebola, has recorded 1,319 new infections in the last three
weeks.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday there were
17,942 cases of the tropical fever across eight countries as of December
7, resulting in 6,388 deaths — almost all in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra
Leone.

Sierra Leone reported 397 new cases during the week ending December 7
— three times as many as Liberia and Guinea combined, WHO said.

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