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Sierra Leoneans celebrated the end of a three-day lockdown aimed at stemming the world’s worst ever Ebola epidemic Sunday, as authorities claimed the controversial operation had identified dozens of new infections and located nearly 100 bodies.
In the most extreme strategy employed by a nation since the epidemic began, Sierra Leone ordered its 6 million residents to stay indoors as volunteers circulated to educate households as well as isolate the sick and remove the dead. Earlier in the day, Stephen Gaojia, head of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that leads the national Ebola response, said a few areas had still not been reached by the government's teams "Even though the exercise has been a huge success so far, it has not been concluded in some metropolitan cities like Freetown and Kenema,'' he told Reuters. Gaojia said 92 bodies had been recovered across the country by the end of Saturday, the second day of the lockdown. The EOC announced in the evening that it would not extend the campaign in order to reach the remaining households as it had earlier said might be required. "It cannot be extended because its objectives have largely been met,'' Gaojia said.
Ebola has infected at least 5,357 people in West Africa since March, mainly in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, killing 2,630 of those, according to the World Health Organization. At least 562 have died in Sierra Leone.Liberia, meanwhile, opened a new 150-bed Ebola treatment center in the capital Monrovia Sunday. The country is currently the worst hit by the epidemic.