Sierra Leone's president called upon the country's entire population to stay home for three days next week in order to stem the spread of Ebola, the deadly virus that has killed more than 3,700 people in the country and more than 10,000 across West Africa.
President Ernest Bai Koroma said the lockdown is part of a four-week campaign to bring the number of new infections down to zero, in line with a commitment he signed in February with the leaders of Guinea, Liberia, and Côte d'Ivoire.
Citizens will being called upon to stay at home between the hours of 6 a.m. on March 27 until 6 p.m. on March 29, while trading will be suspended, and restaurants and bars will be ordered shut. Similar measures will also be put into place on April 4, 11, and 18.
"I have made a personal commitment to do 'whatever it takes' to get to zero Ebola infections and I call on every Sierra Leonean in every community to pull together as we make a final push to get to zero," Koroma wrote on Facebook.
President Koroma said that Friday was the first day no new infections were recorded in his country since Ebola first emerged in West Africa in December 2013.
"We have recorded one day of zero cases, but we need to stay at zero," he wrote. "Ebola has not yet been removed from Sierra Leone."
Warning that the risk of transmission will increase as the rainy season arrives in his country, President Koroma called on all citizens to support his "Zero Ebola" campaign.
"The economic development of our country and the lives of our people continue to be threatened by the ongoing presence of Ebola in Sierra Leone," he wrote. "The future of our country and the aspirations of our children are at stake."
Koroma said some allowances would be put in place to permit Christians to attend Palm Sunday celebrations on March 29.
Health care staff and volunteers will be among those exempt from the lockdown.
David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
Contact David Mack at email@example.com.
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