The government decided Friday to ease a quarantine meant to keep the deadly Ebola virus from spreading, but thousands of people trying to leave the “Hot Zone” were still trapped behind roadblocks.
Soldiers wouldn’t let them pass and there was little water, food or shelter, increasing the risk of an outbreak of other diseases such as diarrhea.
Hoping to keep the Ebola virus from spreading to the capital of Kinshasa, the government had decreed a quarantine for Kikwit - a city of 600,000 where the virus surfaced two months ago - and the surrounding province of Bandundu.
On Friday, government officials said the quarantine would be relaxed to cover only Kikwit, 250 miles east of Kinshasa. People from elsewhere in Bandundu province will be allowed to travel and enter Kinshasa province.
“We are following the advice of medical experts who confirm that a broader quarantine is unnecessary,” Health Minister Lonyangela Bopenda Bo-Nkuma said.