Sierra Leone makes hiding Ebola patients illegal

2014-08-23 19:04
An Ebola virus. (CDC, AP)

An Ebola virus. (CDC, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Freetown - Sierra Leone voted to pass a new amendment to its health act, imposing possible jail time for anyone caught hiding an Ebola patient, a practice the World Health Organisation believes has contributed to a major underestimation of the current outbreak.

The new law, an update to the country's 1960 Public Health Act, was passed on Friday and imposes prison terms of up to two years for violators, said lawmaker Ansumana Jaiah Kaikai.

The measure was necessary to compel residents to cooperate with government officials, Kaikai said, noting that some residents had resisted steps to combat Ebola including the construction of isolation centres in their communities.

"This amendment seeks to address these emerging bottlenecks," he added. The amendment now goes for presidential assent.

The country's health ministry warned back in June that it was a serious crime to shelter someone infected with Ebola.

Sierra Leone has been hit hard by the current outbreak, recording at least 910 cases and 392 deaths, according to figures released Friday by the World Health Organization.

A total of 2 615 infections and 1 427 deaths have been recorded across West Africa.

These numbers don't capture all cases in part because families hide patients, fearing high fatality rates and the stigma that comes with a positive diagnosis, the UN health agency said in a situation assessment released Friday.

New treatment centers in Liberia are being overwhelmed by patients that were not previously identified, suggesting an "invisible caseload" of patients that is going undetected, the WHO said.

Countries in the region and elsewhere in Africa have continued to impose travel restrictions, even though this hasn't been recommended by the WHO.

Ivory Coast announced late on Friday it was closing land borders with neighboring Guinea and Liberia. Gabon, Senegal, South Africa and Cameroon had all earlier in the week imposed restrictions on some or all of the four countries with confirmed Ebola cases.

On Saturday, the Philippine government said it was recalling 115 peacekeepers from Liberia because of the health risk posed by Ebola.

Speaking in parliament on Friday, Sierra Leone majority leader Ibrahim Bundu accused development partners of being slow to respond to the Ebola crisis and said Sierra Leone had suffered "abandonment and isolation from those we viewed to be our biggest friends" in the region and beyond.

"These ugly developments are evidenced in the cancellations of flights, closing of borders, reduction of operational hours of banks and further isolation by shutting down businesses at the time of greatest need," he said.

He said lawmakers would soon review the country's partnerships "so as to form a permanent record of who are true friends are."

Read more on:    sierra leone  |  west africa  |  ebola

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
9 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.