Sierra Leone Declares Health Emergency Over Ebola

Medical staff working with Doctors Without Borders prepared to bring food to patients kept in an isolation area last week at an Ebola treatment center in Kailahun, Sierra Leone. Credit Tommy Trenchard/Reuters

ABUJA, Nigeria — As alarm spread over the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa, President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, one of the three main countries battling the worst known outbreak of the disease, has declared a public health emergency that calls for the deployment of security forces to quarantine epicenters of infection. He also said he was canceling a planned visit to the United States.

In an address to the nation posted late Wednesday on the presidential website, Mr. Koroma said the emergency would “enable us take a more robust approach to deal with the Ebola outbreak.”

Mr. Koroma said he had been planning to attend a United States-Africa summit meeting in Washington, but would instead go on Friday to Guinea to discuss a regional response to the outbreak. The other two countries accounting for many of the 672 killed by the disease in recent weeks are Liberia and Guinea.

“We need to tell everyone that the epidemic is here, it is happening, and it is serious,” said Amara Jambai, the director of prevention and control at the Sierra Leone Health Ministry.

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