An Ebola Quarantine In Freetown: People Come And Go As They Wish
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is spreading at an alarming rate. The death toll rose Monday to 900 when the World Health Organization reported 61 new deaths across four countries.
Here in the U.S., an American doctor is being treated for Ebola at an Atlanta hospital. And doctors in New York City are testing a man, who visited West Africa last month, for the virus at Mount Sinai Medical Center, the Associated Press reported Monday.
But Sierra Leone is one of the nations hardest hit by the outbreak. The country has reported more than 600 Ebola cases since late May.
In response, Sierra Leone’s president declared a state of emergency Wednesday and announced a series of hard-line measures designed to stop the spread of the disease. Among them was a 21-day quarantine on all homes exposed to the virus. Hundreds of military members were deployed Monday to enforce the quarantine.
But when I visited one of these homes in Sierra Leone’s capital city, Freetown, the atmosphere appeared relaxed. The home was guarded by only two police officers. People seemed to come and go as they pleased.
Sule Koroma and his family were placed under quarantine after his sister Saudatu Koroma died of Ebola in late July. She was the first resident in Freetown to test positive for the virus. And when Saudatu’s family forcibly took her out of the city’s hospital it triggered a manhunt.
Top Photo: A neighbor talks to one of the two policemen assigned to enforce the quarantine of Sule Koroma’s house in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Bottom Photo: Members of the Koroma family relax Sunday at their quarantined home in Freetown.
Photos by Tommy Trenchard for NPR