Speaking to Reuters, Emergency Operations Center head Stephen Gaojia called the lockdown a "huge success" after the three-day order for residents to remain in their homes was lifted in most of the country. A few areas are still awaiting the completion of the sweep, including parts of the capital city of Freetown. Citing their success, officials said they won't extend the lockdown's duration.
Gaojia said officials removed 92 bodies from homes as of Saturday evening, and identified 56 positive Ebola cases out of 123 people who sought testing during the lockdown. Thirty-one of the 123 tested negative for the virus, while the rest are still waiting for test results.
On Sunday, Gaojia estimated to AFP that the country could end up with as many as 150 new cases from the sweep. That poses a challenge for the country's Ebola response infrastructure, which is already overburdened. "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.
The lockdown cleared the normally busy streets of Freetown for three days as volunteers went door-to-door, looking for victims and informing residents about Ebola. It was a controversial move, one Sierra Leone's government said was necessary to help fight the outbreak in the country, among the three hardest-hit by the spread of Ebola.
Critics of the lockdown, including Doctors Without Borders, warned that the lockdown would be ineffective in the long term because quarantines and lockdowns "end up driving people underground and jeopardizing the trust between people and health providers."
As the AFP noted, others questioned whether volunteers were giving the most effective advice on their sweeps.
On Monday, the WHO announced that the spread of Ebola in Nigeria and Senegal was "pretty much contained." The two countries were the least affected of the five caught in the Ebola epidemic plaguing West Africa.
The situation is much more stark in Liberia, whose health care system is so overburdened by Ebola cases that people are dying of otherwise preventable illnesses. As The Post reported, patients suffering from ailments like malaria, diarrhea, diabetes, and other treatable conditions are either unable -- or unwilling -- to get treatment.