WHO officially declared Sierra Leone Ebola-free

Nov 9, 2015 12:12 IST

World Health Organization (WHO) on 7 November 2015 announced that Sierra Leone is free of the Ebola virus. West African nation's epidemic was declared over at a ceremony attended by President Ernest Bai Koroma and WHO representative Anders Nordstrom.

Sierra Leone was declared free of the Ebola virus after no new cases were reported in the West Africa country in 42 days (two Ebola virus incubation cycles), where the virus began in May 2014.

Sierra Leone recorded the first Ebola case in May 2014, a total number of 8704 people were infected and 3589 have died of which 221 were healthcare workers.

Steps that helped to achieve the status includes
• Sierra Leone Government worked with partners from around the globe and mobilized the necessary expertise needed to contain the outbreak.
• Sierra Leone that experienced a massive rise in cases in September and October 2014 curbed the disease by putting in place treatment facilities, setting up safe and dignified burial teams and working with communities to identify and stop Ebola.
• The use of rapid response teams and strong community involvement became the cornerstone of the national response strategy.
• International partners supported the government to maintain a rapid response capacity to detect, identify and shut down any new transmission chains, and also contributed technical assistance, personnel, food, supplies and equipment.

WHO declared that the country now enters a 90-day period of enhanced surveillance which will run until 5 February 2016 and WHO will continue to support Sierra Leone during this period. This new phase is critical for ensuring early detection of any possible new cases of Ebola virus disease.

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