As the lockdown comes to its final hours reports are filtering through from international news sources and citizens of the Ebola stricken country alike, with very little good news being shared. The controversial lockdown enacted by the Government of Sierra Leone was intended to aid the country in its fight against the deadly disease.
Most worrying are reports of illegal border crossings into Guinea as people flee the lockdown fearing that they will be detained or quarantined if suspected of having Ebola. Most people using these crossings avoid checkpoints and health checks. Guinea health officials have reported significant numbers of border crossings into the country.
The lockdown has revealed as many as 20 new cases of Ebola according to early reports and at least 70 bodies have been uncovered and retrieved for burial. The numbers are expected to rise as further information is released but currently the Government of Sierra Leone has remained mum on the effectiveness or results of the campaign. Many local residents have reported that no health checks were performed by volunteers with the typical house visit involving delivery of a 72% bar of soap regardless of the size of the household and a short list of Ebola prevention tips focused on the washing of hands.
Critics have called the lockdown a publicity stunt with little to no effectiveness serving only to raise fear in the general public but failing to meet its original goal of providing education on the deadly disease. There have also been reports of violence including an attack on several health workers who were burying bodies of Ebola victims in an area near Freetown.
It is certainly too soon to determine the success of the lockdown or its effectiveness in slowing the spread of Ebola in the West African Region. The next WHO situation report should certainly reflect higher case numbers and death tolls in line with the discoveries made during the lockdown.
UPDATE: 56 new infections and 92 bodies discovered. Lockdown may be extended.