Friday, December 12, 2014 4:50 pm
While people in the rest of the World would march out resplendent in their best dresses and savour the festivities on 25 December, citizens of Ebola plagued Sierra Leone, would hardly notice it was time for the yearly religious ritual, called Christmas.
The government of Sierra Leone said on Friday it was banning any public Christmas celebrations as the spiralling caseload of Ebola infections continues to spread alarm.
Soldiers are to be deployed throughout the festive period to force people venturing onto the streets back indoors, the government’s Ebola response unit said.
Palo Conteh, head of the department, told reporters in the capital Freetown there would be “no Christmas and New Year celebrations this year”.
“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.”
While Islam is the dominant religion, more than a quarter of the population is Christian and public gatherings and entertainment are common during the festive period.
Conteh did not give the exact dates of the crackdown or specify any exceptions. In past local and nationwide anti-Ebola curfews, people have been allowed out to worship and for “essential business”.
Under current emergency regulations, bars and nightspots have been shut down and public gatherings are outlawed but there is no general ban on wandering outdoors or working.
Sierra Leone, which has overtaken Liberia to report the most cases of the killer virus, has recorded 1,319 new infections in the last three weeks.