Authorities in Sierra Leone have banned public Christmas and New Year's celebrations in a bid to halt the spread of Ebola, according to local news reports.

Paolo Conteh, who heads the country's national Ebola response, said troops would be deployed to prevent any street parties, and residents should spend the holidays at home, Sierra Leone's Awoko newspaper reported Friday.

"He sternly warned that there is a big problem with the Western Area and if they don't change their behavior and attitude in the fight against Ebola, people will still continue to die," the paper said.

Most Sierra Leoneans are Muslims, but Christians make up about a quarter of the population and celebrations are common during the holiday period.

It was the latest in a series of tough measures enacted as infection rates in the West African country have soared this year.

Bars and night spots have been shut down and entire districts placed under quarantine. In September, Sierra Leone ordered people nationwide to stay at home for three days while health workers went door to door, distributing information about Ebola and searching for new cases.

More than 8,000 confirmed and suspected Ebola cases have been reported in Sierra Leone, with nearly 1,900 deaths, according to figures released Friday by the World Health Organization.