MONROVIA (Reuters) - Liberia's government has suspended for one night a curfew imposed to curb the spread of Ebola, so that New Year's Eve church services can go ahead, Deputy Information Minister Isaac Jackson said.
The government introduced the curfew in September at the height of an epidemic that has killed more than 3,400 people in Liberia and at least 4,400 more in Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to World Health Organisation figures.
"The President has directed the Minister of Justice to suspend the curfew for today, Dec. 31, to allow religious leaders, churches and other religious groups to allow the watch night services, traditional in Liberian society," he said.
The midnight to 6 a.m. curfew will be reimposed the following night, when anyone caught outside will be arrested, he said.
Churches that hold services tonight should observe measures to prevent the spread of Ebola such as hand washing, temperature testing and avoiding over-crowding on church benches, he said.
The rate of new cases has slowed in Liberia and health officials say the next phase of the fight against the virus will involve deploying teams of health workers to identify chains of infection.
(Reporting by James Harding Giahyue; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and John Stonestreet)