Health

10 Ebola cases found during Sierra Leone's shutdown

A usually busy market street is deserted as Sierra Leone enters the second day of a three-day country wide lockdown on movement of people due to the Ebola virus in the city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Saturday, March 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Duff)

A usually busy market street is deserted as Sierra Leone enters the second day of a three-day country wide lockdown on movement of people due to the Ebola virus in the city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Saturday, March 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Duff)

Sierra Leone found 10 new Ebola cases during a three-day countrywide shutdown, an official said Wednesday, declaring that the West African country is now at the "tail end" of the epidemic.

Hundreds of sick people were identified on Friday, Saturday and Sunday as health teams went door-to-door in an operation that also aimed to remind people how to prevent Ebola. But only 10 of those people eventually tested positive for the disease, said Alfred Palo Conteh, the head of the country's Ebola response.

That figure indicates that there were not hordes of hidden Ebola cases as some had feared. By contrast, during a shutdown in September, when the epidemic was raging, more than 260 new cases were found.

Conteh said Sierra Leone had "conquered the Ebola disease and we are now at the tail end." But others have cautioned that there is still much to be done to get rid of the disease in the country. In fact, the three-day shutdown was meant to remind people that the outbreak is not over and to fight complacency.

The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed around 10,500 people, the vast majority in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.