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False rumours about end of Ebola spark celebrations

Last night, false rumours that the Ebola crisis had come to an end spread through Makeni in northern Sierra Leone, causing the Resident Minister to order an immediate curfew.

Mariama Jalloh in Makeni reported that people were “dancing and shouting, saying Ebola has finished in Sierra Leone.” Sixty Kamara explained that “a group of unruly bike riders caused the panic that resulted in theft, accidents, pandemonium and a lot noise in the streets.”

The news quickly spread to Freetown, where Abu Bakarr Kargbo reacted angrily to the spread of the rumours. He said that “while people continue to die of Ebola, I got a call from a relative in Makeni informing me that residents of that city are jubilating along Rogbaneh Road saying ‘Ebola don don, si tan to kuru yei pa Ernest o po mar su’ which translated means ‘we thank God and president Koroma that our country is free of Ebola.’”

Both the police and citizens have begun investigations to identify the bike riders that started the rumour and understand why they did it. Local unit commander, Gibril M. Turay “we have confined a good sum of them.” Kargbo reported that the “Mayor of Makeni and the Resident Minister are on top of things and all Makeni radio stations are now announcing that it is a lie and dispelling the nonsense.”

Mariama Jalloh added that the situation today has “cooled down and the local representatives have put things into place by explaining to people through the radio that it was a rumor and they have sent security personnel to search for those that are passing misinformation.”

Sierra Leone’s Health Minister reminded the people of Makeni that when the Ebola crisis has finished, it will be announced by the President, and this will only happen when there has been no cases for 42 days.

Makeni is the fourth largest city in Sierra Leone and the largest economic centre of the Northern Province. It is the capital and administrative center of Bombali District, which is one of the areas of the country that have been recently put under isolation due to the high number of cases of Ebola.