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Sierra Leone makes it a crime to hide Ebola patients

Ebola virus
Ebola virus
Photo by Handout/Getty Images

While the World Health Organizations and government officials in countries affected by the Ebola epidemic struggle to contain the disease, many of their own citizens are in denial that it exists, (such as the recent aid on a slum near Monrovia, Liberia where patients had been quarantined), or have been found to be hiding stricken relatives because they fear the “stigma of positive diagnoses.” As a result, the government in Sierra Leone has now passed a law making it illegal to hide Ebola patients, an act now punishable by up to 2 years in jail. To date, 910 of the reported 2,615 cases of Ebola in West Africa, and 392 (out of 1,427) deaths have occurred in Sierra Leone alone. Among those infected there include two British nationals who became sick this past week,

"The new regulation will provide for summary trial, meaning trial by a magistrate court alone," Justice Minister Frank Kargbo told Reuters.

In the meantime, the Ivory Coast announced that it was shutting its land borders with Guinea and Liberia, while other African nations including South Africa, Cameroon, Senegal and Gabon have imposed border restrictions on Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and Nigeria, where Ebola is raging. In addition, the Philippines has recalled 115 peacekeepers from Liberia.

In response, Sierra Leone majority leader Ibrahim Bundu accused developed countries of being slow to respond to the Ebola crisis, and told parliament that “Sierra Leone had suffered abandonment and isolation from those we viewed to be our biggest friends.”

"These ugly developments are evidenced in the cancellations of flights, closing of borders, reduction of operational hours of banks and further isolation by shutting down businesses at the time of greatest need," he stated. .