Ebola countdown – setback for Sierra Leone as one person dies in Kambia

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 August 2015

ebola burial teams

After almost 50 days without any new case, and no deaths reported in the last 2 weeks from the Ebola virus in the Kambia district – once at the northern epicentre of the virus, there are confirmed reports today of the death of a woman in the district.

This brings the total cumulative number of people dead from the virus in Kambia to 159.

The World Health Organisation has warned that Sierra Leone cannot be declared Ebola free until after the last victim has died or discharged, and no new cases found in 42 consecutive days.

No deaths had been recorded in the country in the last fifteen days. So today’s announcement will come as a major blow for the people of Sierra Leone, who just cannot wait for the country to be declared Ebola free.

So far, 3,587 people have died of the virus in Sierra Leone, since May 2014 – when official counting began. When will this virus end – if ever?

This is Clarence Roy-Macaulay’s report, filed today for the Associated Press (AP):

Health officials in Sierra Leone on Sunday confirmed an Ebola death less than a week after the country’s last known patient was discharged from a hospital.

chief medical officer - brima kargboSamples from the body of a 67-year-old woman who died recently in Kambia district in the country’s north came back positive for the deadly disease, said chief medical officer Dr. Brima Kargbo (Photo).

Last Monday, the last known Ebola patient was released from a hospital in Sierra Leone, a milestone that allowed the West African nation to begin a 42-day countdown toward being declared free of Ebola transmission.

Authorities were still trying to determine whether the woman in Kambia died before or after that countdown began, Kargbo said.

The National Ebola Response Center had deployed teams to conduct surveillance and trace people who were in contact with the woman, said OB Sisay, the center’s director.

“We should not despair as we have been expecting this,” Sisay said. “We need to stay focused and maintain our discipline.”

The worst Ebola outbreak in history has killed nearly 4,000 people in Sierra Leone out of more than 13,500 confirmed, probable and suspected cases, according to the World Health Organization. More than 11,300 people have died in the outbreak, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

A country must go 42 days — equal to two incubation periods of 21 days — without an Ebola case in order for WHO to declare it free of Ebola transmission. It’s a benchmark that neighboring Liberia reached in May only to then experience a brief reappearance of cases.

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