The Slatest

Sierra Leone Lifts Ebola Quarantines as Vaccines Nearly Ready for Clinical Trial

A health worker checks a girl’s temperature in the eastern Sierra Leone town of Koidu.

Baz Ratner

Citing a “downward trend” in new Ebola infections, Sierra Leone is lifting nationwide quarantine restrictions that have been in place since last summer. From AFP:

“Restrictions on movement will be eased to support economic activity. As such, there will no longer be any district or chiefdom level restrictions on movement,” President Ernest Bai Koroma said in an address to the nation late Thursday.

The west African nation of six million has restricted travel for around half its population, sealing off six of its 14 districts and numerous tribal chiefdoms since announcing a state of emergency in July in response to an outbreak which has killed more than 3,000 Sierra Leoneans.

Slowing infection rates have been previously reported in neighboring Liberia and Guinea, the other countries most affected by the crisis. The latest figures:

Liberia, which had a peak of over 300 new cases a week in August and September, registered just eight last week, while there were only 20 confirmed cases in Guinea last week against 45 the week before.

The figure for Sierra Leone was 117 last week against 184 the week before, the WHO said, but added that the west of the country remained a problem area.

In other hopeful news, the “first clinical trial to test the effectiveness of Ebola vaccines” is set to start in Liberia in two weeks, the New York Times says. (Human trials of various vaccines to test their safety have been ongoing for some time.) A Liberian trial of ZMapp, a drug that treats those already infected by the virus (and that has been given to some of the high-profile patients who’ve recovered from the disease), will also begin soon.