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Sierra Leone on lockdown

Sierra Leone said it will confine people to their homes in a nationwide three-day shutdown later this month to try and contain the Ebola epidemic threatening west Africa.

Pedestrians and vehicles will be barred from the country's streets, except on essential business, for 72 hours starting from Sept 19.

"This will be strictly adhered to without exception," government spokesman Abdulai Bayratay told AFP by telephone.

The worst-ever outbreak of Ebola has claimed 491 lives in Sierra Leone, which is one of three countries at the epicentre of the epidemic that has killed more than 2,000 people so far.