Anticipating the mass movement of people across borders and towns as Christmas approaches, President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone has ordered for “Operation Western Area Surge” on national television – an operational drive which tasks government agencies and health workers to comb all streets in Freetown and move from house to house in search of ailing Ebola patients.

The president is bent on arresting the spread and infections of Ebola as the Christmas festival approaches, and he has called for restrictions on travel in the country as well as limited public gatherings in the West Africa’s Ebola worst-hit country.

With over 9,000 confirmed Ebola cases in the country, the government’s initiative to conduct house to house searches for patients will ensure that the spread is limited when patients are reined into healthcare facilities. A British task force and other international groups are pushing ahead with the operation, moving from streets to streets and house to house to ask questions and watch for Ebola symptoms in sick people.

To show how serious the new campaign against Ebola is, President Koroma has stated in a nationwide address that “This is the festive season where Sierra Leoneans often celebrate with families in a flamboyant and joyous manner, but all must be reminded that our country is at war with a vicious enemy.”

To this end, the president has ordered that people worshipping on Christmas Day must return back home immediately they are through with church activities – and all forms of festivities are banned. New Year’s Day festivities and parties are also banned, and New Year’s Eve services must close up by 5 p.m. local time.

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