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Ebola crisis: President Koroma declares state of emergency

Aug 1, 2014, 9:30 AM | Article By: Osman Kargbo

Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma has declared a state of public emergency in response to the worsening Ebola virus disease outbreak in Sierra Leone.

President Koroma, who has decided to cancel his trip to the US-Africa Summit beginning Monday 4 August in Washington, D.C. addressed the nation on Wednesday 30 July 2014.

He announced that all epicenters of the disease, as well as localities and homes where the disease was identified, “will be quarantined”.

The President said he will travel today Friday to Guinea Conakry to meet with his colleague heads of state of the Mano River Union, to discuss sub-regional strategies to defeat the disease.

He also declared that public meetings and gatherings will be restricted, with the exception of essential meetings related to Ebola sensitization and education, for a period of 60 to 90 days, with further measures being planned to be implemented as and when necessary.

The following is from President Koroma’s statement to the nation:

Today, I ask the entire nation to mourn with the families of our national heroes including Dr. Sheik Humarru Khan who lost their lives battling the Ebola outbreak in our country. They were true patriots, paragons of service. We must win this fight in honor of their memory, and with prayers in our hearts, for all our compatriots who are victims of this deadly disease.

Since the outbreak, my government, in collaboration with development partners has continued to mobilize and deploy resources and expertise nationally and internationally to fight the disease…

The disease is beyond the scope of any one country, or community to defeat. Its social, economic, psychological and security implications require scaling up measures at international, national, inter-agency and community levels.

Extra-ordinary challenges require extra-ordinary measures. The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) poses an extra-ordinary challenge to our nation. Consequently, and in line with the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act Number 6 of 1991, I hereby proclaim a State of Public Emergency to enable us take a more robust approach to deal with the Ebola outbreak.

In order to continue to take direct control of the situation, I have cancelled my trip to the US-Africa Summit in the United States of America. On Friday, I will be travelling to Conakry, Guinea, to meet with my colleague Heads of State of the Mano River Union to discuss our sub-regional strategies to defeat the disease.

We are launching a National Response Plan to inaugurate Phase Two of our fight against the disease. I also hereby establish a Presidential Task Force on Ebola which I will chair to champion the implementation of the following:

• All epicenters of the disease will be quarantined;

• The police and the military will give support to health officers and NGOs to do their work unhindered and restrict movements to and from epicenters;

•Localities and homes where the disease is identified will be quarantined until cleared by medical teams;

•Public meetings and gatherings will be restricted with the exception of essential meetings related to Ebola sensitization and education;

•Active surveillance and house-to-house searches shall be conducted to trace and quarantine Ebola victims and suspects;

•Parliament is recalled to promote MPs leadership at constituency levels;

•Paramount chiefs are required to establish bye-laws that would complement other efforts to deal with the Ebola outbreak;

•Mayors, chairmen of councils and councilors are hereby required to support Ebola control measures in their local government areas;

•All deaths must be reported authorities before burial;

•New protocols for arriving and departing passengers have been instituted at the Lungi International Airport;

•Cancellation of all foreign trips by ministers and other government officials except absolutely essential engagements.

These measures will initially be implemented for a period of 60 to 90 days, and subsequent measures will be announced as and when necessary.

In addition, Government is establishing a special account for donations from corporate interests, organizations, the Diaspora and the general public to support the fight against Ebola.

I also hereby declare Monday August 4, 2014 a National Stay at Home Day for Family Reflection, Education and Prayers on the Ebola outbreak.