FREETOWN,Sept. 7 –The Sierra Leone government Saturday vowed to push on with its planned nationwide lockdown despite growing opposition.

The government said the lockdown will be for three days, although Information and Communication Minister Alpha Kanu warned that the period could be lengthened.

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said there is no scientific proof that the approach could yield the required result.

Kanu said in an interview that the shutdown will be for an initial three days, and if need be, it could be increased.

The minister explained the move was taken on the advice of the international community, including health and humanitarian organizations on the ground.

During the lockdown, 21, 000 youth will be deployed in 7000 groups of three each, throughout the country. They will conduct door-to-door searches of suspected cases and refer for treatment.

But questions are being asked about the youth’s safety, as well as how people will earn their living during the lockdown.

There is also concern of access to medical services by non-Ebola patients.

Kanu said experiences during the (1991-2002) civil war provided precedence, and he expects people to stock up food in preparation.

MSF, in a statement, faulted the approach.

“It will be extremely difficult for health workers to accurately identify cases through door-to-door screening as this requires a certain level of expertise. And when cases are identified, there will not be enough Ebola management centres to care for them,” the French charity said.

About 500 people have died of the disease in Sierra Leone alone, according to WHO figures.

Even President Ernest Bai Koroma added his voice to the debate. Sacrificing three days of one`s life was better than risking it in three days, he said.


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