The government of Sierra Leone has deployed hundreds of troops to Ebola clinics, to enforce the isolation of patients, the president’s office said on Tuesday.
A presidential aide told AFP the soldiers would “deter relatives and friends of suspected and Ebola patients from forcefully taking them from hospitals without medical consent”.
Ebola, a deadly tropical virus which causes severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable internal and external bleeding, has claimed the lives of almost 900 people in four west African nations since the start of the year.
Sierra Leone has seen 646 cases, the highest number of any nation, and 273 deaths.
But the fight against its spread has been hampered by relatives discharging highly contageous patients and taking them back to die in their villages, where countless individuals may have contact with them.
“When patients are forcefully taken away, there comes the problem of transmission of the disease to others and this makes the issue of contacting-tracing difficult,” a medic told AFP.
The presidency did not give exact numbers or locations for the deployment, but most of the country’s Ebola clinics are in Kailahun and Kenema, the eastern districts hit hardest by the outbreak.