Sierra Leone in virtual lockdown for holidays

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — Mabinty Mansaray’s plan for Christmas and New Year’s was the usual: grab her children and her two sisters and take the bus from Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, to her village more than 100 miles away.

For the 27-year-old hairdresser, the holidays have meant getting together for more than a week to have fun, settle disputes, hold rites to remember the dead, and send boys and girls for initiation into secret societies.

Not this year.

‘‘Ebola is reported in every district including Freetown,’’ she said in an interview in her rented apartment. ‘‘I don’t feel safe to travel with my family in overloaded commercial vehicles as they keep informing us on radio that Ebola spreads through body contact.’’

Sierra Leone, the hotspot in the Ebola epidemic, is under virtual lockdown.

President Ernest Koroma — a former insurance executive — has canceled most travel between districts and banned Christmas and New Year festivities. Church ceremonies are largely restricted, as is eating in restaurants, and going to nightclubs and beaches.On Thursday, a lockdown was ordered in the northern part of the country, closing shops and other public places, and halting all travel not related to the Ebola crisis. The order will […]

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