WHO data published Dec. 22 showed 19,340 cases and 7,518 deaths, with the vast majority in the three countries hit hardest by the Ebola outbreak: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone accounts for the most cases, while Liberia has the highest death toll in the region.
We will stand with Sierra Leone until this outbreak is under control and the country has recovered from its impact… Ebola remains a global crisis, and we must stop it at its source. The only acceptable goal is zero cases… Our task is to prevent Ebola becoming endemic in this region.
- Ban Ki-moon UN Secretary-General
Ban on Dec. 19-20 visited Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Mali during his first trip to the region since the outbreak began. He praised healthcare workers while visiting several operations working to curb the spread of Ebola.
There will be no Christmas and New Year celebrations this year. We will ensure that everybody remains at home to reflect on Ebola. Military personnel will be on the streets at Christmas and the New Year to stop any street celebrations.
- Palo Conteh Sierra Leone defense minister and Ebola czar
Sierra Leone canceled holiday celebrations on Dec. 12. At the beginning of December, the country expanded its quarantine to a sixth district. Over half of the country's 6 million people are now restricted to quarantine zones.
Sierra Leone forced to cancel Christmas as Ebola spreads - Independent.ie
Authorities in Sierra Leone called for a two-week Ebola "lockdown" on Dec. 10 in the eastern part of the country. The lockdown is part of an effort to curb new infections in a newly identified Ebola hot spot after 87 bodies were buried in 11 days. WHO said Dec. 1 that Sierra Leone is short on isolation beds.
On Dec. 5 Sierra Leone began a campaign to provide 2.5 million people in areas hardest hit by Ebola with anti-malarial tablets. The campaign is meant to prevent instances of false Ebola diagnoses that occur when individuals infected with malaria mistake their symptoms for those of Ebola.
Sierra Leone gives out malaria pills in fight against Ebola
Malaria is the number one killer in Sierra Leone, but patients who may be infected do not seek care for fear of being shunned from health centres as suspected Ebola cases.
- Roeland Monasch UNICEF representative in Sierra Leone
UNICEF is supporting the campaign, which aims to ease the burden on Sierra Leone's health care system. Over 9,300 volunteers plan to go door to door to administer anti-malarial tablets to people over the age of 6 months. A second round of the campaign is planned in January 2015.
Sierra Leone: In communities at risk, the fight against Ebola and malaria goes hand in hand | Press centre | UNICEF
Food deliveries are not reaching everyone in Sierra Leone, forcing thousands to break quarantine in search of sustenance, aid groups said Nov. 4. Some who leave their homes are being monitored and could spread the disease. The government and the UN's World Food Programme are responsible for food deliveries.
Ebola, which has no vaccine, kills between 25% and 90% of people who contract it, depending on the strain. It is transmitted via unprotected contact with the bodily fluids of symptomatic people or corpses. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding. Eight outbreaks have occurred since the virus was discovered in 1976.
Guinea confirms Ebola as source of deadly epidemic