Officials searching the homes of Sierra Leone’s residents during a three-day mandatory lockdown found close to 100 corpses along with more than 50 people who are infected with the deadly Ebola virus – cases that were previously unknown to those trying to fight the outbreak, according to the agency leading the country’s Ebola response, as reported by the Washington Post.
Speaking to Reuters, Emergency Operations Center head Stephen Gaojia called the lockdown a “huge success” after the three-day order for residents to stay confined to their homes was lifted in most of the country. A few areas are still awaiting the sweep to be completed, including parts of the capital city of Freetown. Officials said they won’t extend the Ebola lockdown’s duration, citing their success with the three-day order.
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Gaojia said officials removed 92 bodies from homes as of Saturday evening, and identified 56 positive Ebola cases out of 123 who sought testing amid the lockdown period. Thirty-one of the 123 tested negative for Ebola, while the rest were still awaiting results.
On Sunday, Gaojia estimated to AFP that the country could end up with as many as 150 new cases from the sweep, which poses a challenge for the country’s Ebola response infrastructure, which is already bursting at the seams.
“We have an overflow of bodies which we still need to bury but this has been an everyday occurence since the Ebola outbreak,” Gaojia said.
According to Sierra Leone Health Minister Abubakarr Fofanah, officials reached 80 percent of the 1.5 million homes the campaign was targeted towards.
The lockdown emptied the typically bustling streets of Freetown for three days as volunteers went door-to-door, scouring for victims and informing residents about Ebola. The move was controversial, one Sierra Leone’s government said was a necessary step to help fight the outbreak in the country, among the three hardest-hit by the spread of Ebola.