Sierra Leone recorded 130 new cases of the Ebola virus during a three-day lockdown and it is waiting for test results on a further 39 suspected cases, Stephen Gaojia, head of the Ebola Emergency Operations Centre, said on Monday.
The country had ordered its six million citizens to stay indoors until Sunday night in the most extreme strategy employed by a West African nation since the start of an epidemic that has infected 5,762 people since March and killed 2,793 of those.
“The exercise has been largely successful … The outreach was just overwhelming. There was massive awareness of the disease,” Gaojia said, noting that authorities reached more than 80 percent of the households they had intended to target.
Sierra Leone now needs to focus on treatment and case management and it urgently needs treatment centres in all its 14 districts as well as “foot soldiers” in clinics and hospitals, he said.
“We need clinicians, epidemiologists, lab technicians, infection-control practitioners and nurses,” he said.
The hemorrhagic fever, which has struck mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, is the worst since Ebola was identified in 1976 in the forests of central Africa. At least 562 have died in Sierra Leone.
The lockdown was intended to allow 30,000 health workers, volunteers and teachers to visit every household. Some argued it might have a negative impact on Sierra Leone’s poor.
Meanwhile, the three-day curfew aimed at containing the Ebola outbreak in the has been country declared a success by authorities.
The wide-ranging curfew ended at midnight on Sunday and has not been extended, authorities said.
Sierra Leone is one of the countries worst affected by the outbreak, with nearly 600 of the almost 2,800 total deaths recorded so far.
Some health groups have criticised the lockdown, saying it would destroy trust between patients and doctors.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says the situations in Senegal and Nigeria have been “pretty much contained”, reports the Reuters news agency.
Nearly all of the deaths in the world’s worst Ebola outbreak have been recorded in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.