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Sierra Leone vice president in Ebola quarantine

01 March 2015, 06:55

Freetown-Sierra Leone's Vice President Sam Sumana has placed himself in quarantine following the Ebola death of one of his guards, a government spokesman said Saturday, as the country reintroduced travel restrictions as the number of new cases rises again.

Sumana "has decided to place himself in precautionary quarantine awaiting the results of tests by the health authorities", the spokesman said.

Sumana's bodyguard, 42-year-old John Koroma, died from Ebola on Friday, medical sources said.

Sources at the vice president's office said Sumana is not in danger but had decided to stay out of his office for the next 21 days and work from his home in the west of the capital.

The government voiced "grave concern" that the fall in the number of new cases seen in the west African nation in recent weeks has been reversed.

"The common denominator in the new cases is involvement with maritime activities," the presidency said in a statement.

The authorities, therefore, decided that no boat can enter the country overnight, with marine police alerted to impose the rule. Restrictions were also placed on commercial vehicles and on the number of passengers carried by taxis, lorries and other vehicles.

Ebola restrictions were eased in January as the number of new cases fell, in an attempt to boost the economy.

However on Wednesday Sierra Leone said it was seeing a spike in Ebola infections, blaming unsafe burials that threaten to undermine the recovery from the deadly epidemic.

The west African nation, which has registered some 3,400 deaths in the nine months since the outbreak spread from neighbouring Guinea, had seen a steady decline in new cases over recent months.

Ebola, one of the deadliest viruses known to man, is spread only through direct contact with the bodily fluids of the recently deceased or an infected person showing symptoms such as fever or vomiting.

More than 9,500 people have died of the disease since the west African epidemic emerged in southern Guinea in December 2013.

Liberia has registered the highest death toll of 4,037 fatal cases while Sierra Leone has seen almost half of the total of 23,694 cases.

While Liberia is showing only a tiny handful of new cases each week, Guinea and Sierra Leone continue to be a worry to the authorities, who say they still do not have the epidemic under control.

Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma leaves for Brussels on Sunday to co-reside with the EU at an international meeting on the fight against Ebola and measures to facilitate reconstruction in the countries hit by the virus.

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