Sierra Leone has ended a three-day curfew to stem the world’s worst Ebola epidemic, with authorities claiming a “huge success” in identifying new infections and locating scores of bodies.
The curfew ended at midnight on Sunday and was the most extreme strategy employed by a nation since the Ebola outbreak began. The country’s six million residents were ordered to stay indoors as volunteers isolated the sick and removed the dead.
Emergency authorities called the campaign a “huge success” and said it would not be extended “because its objectives have largely been met”.
Stephen Gaojia, the head of the country’s emergency operations centre, said 92 bodies had been recovered by the end of Saturday, and 123 people had contacted authorities during the curfew over suspect infections.
Late on Sunday, before the curfew had officially ended, residents in Freetown emerged to sing and dance, as police made a number of arrests in an attempt to enforce the measure in its final hours.
The three-day curfew was intended to allow 30,000 health workers, volunteers and teachers to visit every household in the country.
The medical charity, Doctors Without Borders, warned that the curfew could lead people to conceal cases.
The outbreak of the haemorrhagic fever is the worst since it was identified in 1976 in the forests of central Africa.
The World Health Organization says the virus has killed more than 560 people in Sierra Leone and more than 2,600 in West Africa since the outbreak began in December.