The head of the Ebola Emergency Operations Centre, Stephen Gaojia, said on Monday that 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.
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 per cent 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.