Authorities in Sierra Leone have declared a three-day national lockdown a “success” after the curfew was lifted Sunday night, according to the BBC. Dozens of new Ebola infections were detected as a result of the curfew, which would not be extended, officials said. However, some residents remained wary of health workers who went door-to-door during the lockdown to identify cases of Ebola.
"Even though the exercise has been a huge success so far, it has not been concluded in some metropolitan cities like Freetown and Kenema," Stephen Gaojia, head of the Emergency Operations Centre that leads the national Ebola response, told Reuters. He said the lockdown could not be extended because its intentions had “largely been met.”
The national curfew began Friday, confining most of the country’s 6 million inhabitants to their homes. Some 21,000 health workers went door-to-door to distribute soap, identify new cases and to spread awareness about the disease that has killed more than 2,600 people across West Africa. Nearly 1,500 of those killed by the virus lived in Liberia, the worst-hit country. Some 601 deadly cases occurred in Guinea and 562 in Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization. Nigeria has had eight people killed by Ebola.
Over 90 bodies were recovered across Sierra Leone by the end of Saturday, and about 123 people were tested for Ebola. Of these, 56 tested positive for the virus. Thirty-one tested negative and 36 were awaiting results, according to the Associated Press. Health workers used the lockdown to bury many of the bodies of those who had died from Ebola.
Many residents still feared that health workers were actually spreading the disease, a belief that has persisted in other countries, as well. Rumors continued in certain parts of Sierra Leone that the soap health workers passed out was causing people to become sick. "There was this lady shouting saying we want to kill her, she is not interested in the soap," one volunteer health worker told the AP. "We tried our … best to talk to her but she refused to take the soap. She is afraid."
Meanwhile, a second Spanish priest who had tested positive for Ebola was airlifted from Sierra Leone Monday for treatment in Spain. He reportedly contracted the virus while working as director of San Juan de Dios Hospital in Sierra Leone and is the second Spanish priest to become infected. The first priest died in Madrid last month.