150 New Ebola Cases, 70 Bodies Found In Sierra Leone After Lockdown

Sierra Leone’s Ebola lockdown has uncovered about 150 new cases of the deadly virus in addition to about 70 bodies previously unaccounted for, authorities say.

Most of the West African country’s six million people were confined to their homes for 72 hours from Friday, as 30,000 volunteers went door-to-door to educate residents on preventing the spread of the deadly epidemic.

“We have an overflow of bodies which we still need to bury but this has been an everyday occurrence since the Ebola outbreak … Now at least we have about 150 new cases,” Steven Gaojia, head of the country’s emergency operation centre, said.

The country’s chief medical officer earlier said up to 70 bodies had been uncovered, but these were in and around the capital, and results for the whole country are likely to push up the figure significantly.

Health Minister Abubakarr Fofanah said volunteers had managed to reach about 80 per cent of homes, deeming the action a success.

“We have learnt a lot from the campaign. Although this campaign has ended, there is a possibility we would have a similar one some other time,” he said.

Mr Fofanah said one of the successes of the action was to cut down on “night burials” — funeral services held within families trying to conceal the fact there had been an Ebola patient in the household.

Liberia also ramped up the battle against the epidemic, announcing on Sunday a fourfold increase in hospital beds to 1000 for patients in the capital Monrovia by the end of October.

Ebola fever can fell its victims within days, causing severe muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and — in many cases — unstoppable internal and external bleeding.