Officials in Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone are calling a three-day lockdown and curfew of citizens a success. Government officials in Sierra Leone called for the lockdown of the region after a spike in Ebola cases. Officials had hoped the policy would help health authorities identify infected individuals and allow them to properly dispose of victims’ bodies. Government officials said the lockdown was a success, and there was no need to extend the curfew.
According to the BBC, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Sarian Kamara said authorities managed to discover 22 new cases of the virus during the curfew that may not have been properly diagnosed otherwise.
“Had they not been discovered, they would have greatly increased transmission.”
He also said between 60 and 70 Ebola victims had been buried in the past two days. Bodies of Ebola victims are highly contagious, and their swift burial is considered key to containing the disease. Though the head of the country’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), Stephen Gaojia, told the BBC the lockdown was a success, he did note that the country was not in the clear when it came to the deadly virus.
“Even though the exercise has been a huge success so far, it has not been concluded in some metropolitan cities like Freetown and Kenema.”
Though the government touted success, many residents have complaints about the curfew restrictions. SFGate reports that while most residents welcomed teams of health care workers and volunteers bearing information about the disease, rumors persisted in pockets of the city that poisoned soap was being distributed, suggesting that public education campaigns had not been entirely successful.
Residents also complained of food shortages during the curfew. Regarding food shortages, The World Food Program says it provided food packages including rice, beans and a form of porridge throughout the lockdown, though its staffers were not going door to door and were instead focused on serving houses placed under quarantine by medical teams, spokesman Alexis Masciarelli said Sunday.
The agency distributed two weeks’ worth of rations to 20,000 households in slum communities just prior to the lockdown, but some residents said the provisions weren’t sufficient.
With the lockdown complete and curfew lifted, the streets of Sierra Leone are now bustling again. Food markets are open again, and the cities are functioning as normal.
What do you think of the drastic Ebola-containment measures in Sierra Leone? Should the lockdown be extended until the virus is more thoroughly contained in larger cities or was the three-day lockdown sufficient?