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Thousands of UK troops would be sent to Sierra Leone to enforce a military lockdown under radical plans to defeat ebola being considered by Britain’s most senior Army officer.
General Sir Nick Carter is leading a review of the UK’s response to the virus, and could use 3,000 British soldiers to impose a blockade and restrict human movement in the African country.
Sir Nick, the Chief of the General Staff, will advise Ministers on proposals, including an increase in troop numbers and using Royal Navy ships to patrol its coastal waters.
The top-level review comes as charity Oxfam said a critical shortfall of Western military personnel in West Africa was in danger of putting lives at risk. It wants troops to deliver vital supplies and build treatment centres for victims.
But defence sources disclosed last night that options to be considered by Sir Nick go much further and include UK troops deploying to towns and villages deep inside Sierra Leone.
A source said: ‘From a military perspective ebola is like a biological warfare attack and should be countered accordingly. There needs to be a clampdown on human movement inside Sierra Leone and possibly to and from the country between now and late 2015 when it is hoped that an antidote will have been developed.’