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ebola 2015

The World Health Organization (WHO) is expected to confirm that Sierra Leone is free of Ebola.

The Ebola outbreak killed almost 4,000 people in Sierra Leone over the past 18 months.

Thousands of people took to the streets of the capital, Freetown, last night marking 42 days without a single declared case of the disease.

Many gathered around a giant cotton tree in Freetown’s center, where some lit candles in memory of the victims, and others danced with joy.

According to the WHO, a country is considered free of human-to-human transmission once two 21-day incubation periods have passed since the last known case tested negative for a second time.

Photo AP

Photo AP

Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma is due to address crowds in the city later,

On November 6, Ernest Bai Koroma blamed the WHO for delaying Sierra Leone declaring a state of emergency and restricting movement during the Ebola outbreak.

The president said his government did at the time what it could do and did not have the knowledge to fight the disease.

Ernest Bai Koroma said his government had to put up with the delays because international organizations such as the WHO “were the experts”.

Neighboring Liberia was declared Ebola-free in September following 4,800 deaths there.

A handful of cases are still being reported in neighboring Guinea, and Sierra Leone has said it will take heightened security and health screening measures at their shared border.

Guinea has declared a 45-day “health emergency” in five regions in the west and south-west of the country over Ebola.

The restrictions include the quarantining of hospitals and clinics where new cases are detected, new rules on burials and possible lockdowns.

The Ebola outbreak began in Guinea in December 2013.

In January, the World Health Organization reported a steady drop in cases in the three epicenter countries.

Renewed concern has been triggered by fresh setbacks in these countries – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.Ebola outbreak Guinea

President Alpha Conde said he was declaring “a reinforced health emergency for a period of 45 days in the prefectures of Forecariah, Coyah, Dubreka, Boffa and Kindia” in a statement published in national media.

The focus of the virus “has shifted to our country’s coastal areas”, he said.

He added: “Wherever the need may be, throughout this period, measures of restriction and confinement will be taken.”

It is a first for the country since the outbreak began, Reuters reported.

On March 27, Sierra Leone began a three-day nationwide lockdown sparked by fears the virus was making a comeback in some parts of the country.

The southwest region of Guinea borders northern districts of Sierra Leone that are focus areas for the lockdown there.

On Friday evening Guinea deployed security forces to its south-west in response to reports Sierra Leoneans were crossing the border to flee the operation, an official told Associated Press.

Sierra Leone government spokesman Theo Nicol said the two countries had agreed to police the border so people with Ebola symptoms did not cross.

Since the Ebola outbreak began more than 24,000 people in nine countries have been infected with the virus, and over 10,000 of them have died.


According to World Health Organization officials, there has been a “turning point” in the Ebola crisis, with cases falling in the three affected countries.

Just 8 cases were detected in Liberia in the last week down from a peak of 500-a-week in September. Guinea and Sierra Leone have also seen falls.

The WHO said the figures were the “most promising” since the outbreak started.

However, the agency continues to urge caution, and to highlight the need to find those who had contact with Ebola patients.

The largest outbreak of Ebola in human history has infected 21,724 people and killed 8,641 – largely in just three countries, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.Ebola 2015

All are now showing falls in weekly cases:

  • Cases in Liberia stand at 8-per-week down from a peak of 509
  • Cases in Guinea stand at 20 per week down from a peak of 292
  • Cases in Sierra Leone stand at 117-per-week down from a peak of 748

There are now some days in Liberia where no cases are reported at all.

A single case is enough to start an entire outbreak so identifying everyone who comes into contact with Ebola is vital.

Yet the latest WHO situation report says the number of people being traced “remains lower than expected in many districts”.

Western Sierra Leone remains another problem.

Of the 145 cases reported across all affected countries last week, more than 100 were in that region, which includes the capital Freetown.