Sierra Leoneans were once again allowed to leave their homes Sunday evening after the government announced the end of a three-day nationwide lockdown aimed at preventing a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus.
During the curfew period — which was ordered by President Ernest Bai Koroma and ran from 0600 GMT on Friday until 1800 GMT Sunday — some 26,000 volunteers went door-to-door to check for sick people and raise awareness about the disease.
Officials at the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) said locals had overwhelmingly complied with the lockdown, the second time in six months the country’s six million residents were told to stay indoors over Ebola concerns.
The focus this time was on hotspots in the capital as well as areas in the north and west of the country.
“The campaign went well and we are pleased over the level of compliance,” the head of NERC’s Situation Room, Obi Sesay, told AFP.
Official figures detailing the results of the campaign will be released Tuesday, he added.
The latest lockdown was called over fears that the disease that has killed about 3,700 in Sierra Leone was making a comeback in parts of the country.
It was disquieting news after World Health Organization officials declared in January the epidemic was finally declining in west Africa after sparking a global health scare.
Witnesses and local media said the quarantine period passed off peacefully with the exception of one incident in the Kaffu Bullom chiefdom in the northern district of Port Loko, where a group of health workers came under attack.
“Yesterday (Saturday) we visited a quarantine house where we discovered a seven-year-old boy who was looking sick,” medical worker Festus James said.
“We wanted to take him to the hospital for further checks when we were pelted with stones and water was thrown at us. We had to flee from the area together with our two security guides,” he told reporters.
“It was all very terrifying.”
In Kambia, also in the north near the border with Guinea, media reports said some people took refuge in the bush to avoid encountering the health teams.
Following the outbreak in December 2013 in neighbouring Guinea, the Ebola virus spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia, which have together seen over 10,300 deaths since, according to the WHO.
One of the deadliest viruses known to man, Ebola is spread only through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person showing symptoms, such as fever or vomiting.