Ebola-plagued Sierra Leone is banning holiday celebrations this year as it continues to fight the deadly virus, health officials announced Friday.
In light of the growing crisis, there will be “no Christmas and New Year celebrations this year,” said Palo Conteh, head of the government’s Ebola Response Unit, said in the capital of Freetown.
“We will ensure that everybody remains at home to reflect on Ebola,” he said. “Military personnel will be on the streets at Christmas and the New Year to stop any street celebrations.”
The majority of Sierra Leone’s population is Muslim, but Christians make up 10 percent of its people, according to the CIA World Factbook.
More than 6,500 people have died and another 18,100 have been infected with Ebola in West Africa — mainly in the nations of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea — since the outbreak began nearly a year ago.
The outbreak has only intensified in Sierra Leone recently: In the past three weeks, more than 1,300 new Ebola infections have been recorded in the nation, which has overtaken Liberia in reporting the highest number of cases of the deadly virus, AFP reported.
Earlier this week, authorities in Sierra Leone announced that parts of the country would be placed under a 2-week ‘lockdown’ after a team from the World Health Organization discovered an outbreak in a remote eastern district that had been largely hidden up to that point. By the time the WHO team arrived, bodies were literally piling up at a makeshift, cordoned-off section of the hospital in Sierra Leone’s Kono district.