Conakry, Guinea – The United Nations health agency declared on Tuesday the end of Ebola virus transmition on the West African nation, Guinea, two years after it began.
Two years ago, on December 28, Guinea recorded the death of patient zero, a 2-year-old boy named Emile Ouamouno. That would be the begging of the largest Ebola outbreak since the virus was first discovered 40 years ago. Since Ouamouno’s death, 2.536 people have died in Guinea alone.
The virus spread to Sierra leone and Liberia infecting nearly 26.000 people. Both countries have been declared ebola free. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Sierra Leone’ epidemic over on November 7, while Liberia discharged its last known Ebola cases on December 3 even though Liberians are now fighting a third comeback of the virus.
Now Guinea is free from the disease after the last Ebola patient tested negative for a second time. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa. Aid said this is the first time that all three countries have stopped the original chains of transmission.
WHO and its partners are working with the Governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to help ensure that survivors have access to medical and psychosocial care as well as counselling and education to help them reintegrate into family and community life, reduce stigma and minimize the risk of Ebola virus transmission.
There were also sporadic cases in Mali, Nigeria and Senegal.
Experts warn that cases may still emerge. They have called for continued vigilance against any new outbreak stemming from the virus’s lingering in male semen. The virus may persist in the semen of some male survivors for as long as nine to 12 months, even after the bloodstream has been cleared. The country now enters a 90-day period of heightened surveillance to ensure any new cases are identified quickly before they could spread.
“We definitely cannot let our guard down. It’s certainly possible we will have more cases and more clusters in the coming months.” Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
The country is planning a celebration in the capital, Conakry, on Wednesday, flanked by representatives from donor countries and dozens of organisations involved in the recovery, from Doctors without Borders to the Red Cross. People will pay tribute to the 115 health workers who died while they helped fighting the disease and to the eight members of an Ebola awareness team who were killed by hostile locals in Guinea’s forested southeast.
President Alpha Conde is expected at an celebration along with several top African musicians, including Youssou N’Dour and Mory Kante who will performe in a memorial concert called “Bye-bye, au revoir Ebola”.
Source: United Nations