Heartless but Effective: I've Seen 'Cordon Sanitaire' Work Against Ebola
Three impoverished, tiny West African nations are in a collective state of siege, their people surrounded by a microbial enemy, the Ebola virus. In response to months of inaction, followed by ineffective measures, the governments of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea have escalated their counterattack on the virus, imposing cordons sanitaires aimed at isolating entire regions of their countries in hopes of containing the enemy. It may slow the virus’ spread, but it will not be sufficient to stop Ebola or lift the state of siege.
In recent days I have heard many media accounts of these governments’ deployment of military personnel to cordon off the hardest-hit parts of their countries—accounts framing these actions as unprecedented in humanity’s battles with Ebola, possibly inhumane or overly severe. These accounts are inaccurate.
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