WHO declares Guinea Ebola free
The U.N. organization held a ceremony yesterday in the Guinean capital Conakry, to mark the step forward. More than 2,500 people had died in Guinea from Ebola. The deadly virus had killed more than 11,300 people worldwide, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Guinea will now enter a 90-day period of heightened surveillance. Dr. Mohamed Belhocine, World Health Organization representative in Guinea, said the organization and partners will continue to support Guinea through this period and “in its early efforts to restart and strengthen essential health services throughout 2016.”
WHO declared that Ebola disease transmission had ended when the country went through two incubation periods of 42days without a new case emerging.
AP noted that Guinea was the last to struggle to stamp out the deadly disease, until Liberia saw a new case in November. Sierra Leone was declared free from transmissions Nov. 7, this year, Liberia was declared Ebola-free twice, but had entered a third countdown after the new cases emerged.
“This is the first time that all three countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – have stopped the original chains of transmission that were responsible for starting this devastating outbreak two years ago,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
Experts have warned that vigilance is needed at this stage. The deadly virus had been found to persist in the semen of some male survivors for as long as 9 months to a year. More than 15,000 survivors also faced health issues linked to the virus.
“The coming months will be absolutely critical,” said Dr. Bruce Aylward, Special Representative of the WHO Director-General for the Ebola Response. “This is the period when the countries need to be sure that they are fully prepared to prevent, detect and respond to any new cases.”
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