DECEMBER 1, 2014 By Jariatu Bangura
Tonkolili district will shutdown beginning today (1 December) for a period of two weeks after the measure was agreed upon by stakeholders in the district as part of efforts to stem the spread of the virus in the area.
The district continues to record new infections, with more than 300 confirmed Ebola cases reported so far.
A concerned group in the district is therefore worried that if tough measures are not being put in place the figures will continue to rise.
Sources in the district say residents have braced up to emulate community participation and vigilance employed in Kailahun and Kenema – two former epicentre districts in eastern Sierra Leone – which has helped to contain the virus, with very few new cases reported spanning days.
Speaking on behalf of other stakeholders, Hon. Hassan A. Sesay, Member of Parliament for Constituency 59, said the high rate of new infections in the northern district cannot be unconnected with numerous entry points into the district, which shares borders with seven other districts.
“People who are infected with the Ebola virus disease can easily have access to Tonkolili because of the proximity [with other districts],” Hon. Sesay said and reaffirmed that the district will be isolated from the rest of the country for 14 days.
“The lockdown is in line with a house-to-house check campaign geared towards removing people who are already infected with the virus,” he said and added that during that period both human and vehicular movements will be restricted even within villages/towns. “Everybody will stay in his own community and checkpoints will be mounted to enforce the lockdown.”
Leading the lockdown campaign is a senior Tonkolili descendant, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Dr. Minkailu Bah.
According to Hon. Sesay, Dr. Bah will spearhead the entire process alongside other senior stakeholders, including lawmakers from the district. “In addition, all other important stakeholders in various institutions across the country, such as the Police, ONS, NERC and tribal heads, are going to fully participate,” he revealed.
A descendant and co-strategist, Mr. Samuel Bangura, Director of the Sierra Leone Water Company (SALWACO), is reported to be in strong support of the measure.