Sierra Leone Declares State of Emergency to Battle Ebola Spread

Jul 31, 2014 4:40 am ET

July 31 (Bloomberg) -- Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency to battle the spread of Ebola after a medical aid group said the West African nation had become the epicenter of the worst outbreak of the disease on record.

President Ernest Bai Koroma has cancelled his trip to Washington to attend a summit for African leaders led by President Barack Obama, according to a statement posted on the presidency’s website. The nation’s only virologist and doctor in charge of battling the hemorrhagic fever died, Koroma said.

“The disease is beyond the scope of any one country, or community to defeat,” he said. “Its social, economic, psychological and security implications require scaling up measures at international, national, inter-agency and community levels.”

Medecins Sans Frontieres shifted its resources to Sierra Leone from Guinea, where the disease was first reported in March. Reports of cases have fallen in Guinea, while rising in neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia. More than 670 people have died in the three countries and a Liberian man died in Lagos, Nigeria, after catching the disease in Liberia and flying to Africa’s largest economy.