Shoppers in Sierra Leone rushed to stock up on food Thursday ahead of a three-day nationwide shutdown, during which the country's 6 million people will be confined to their homes while volunteers search house-to-house for Ebola victims in hiding and hand out soap in a desperate bid to slow the accelerating outbreak.
The disease sweeping West Africa has also touched Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal and is believed to have sickened more than 5,300 people, the World Health Organization reported. In a sign the crisis is picking up steam, more than 700 of those cases were recorded in the last week for which data is available.
Ebola is estimated to have killed more than 2,600 people, with most of the deaths in Liberia. But WHO has said that the official toll is probably a gross underestimate and that most patients are at home, infecting others, when they should be in treatment centers.