Guinea declared free of Ebola virus that killed over 2,500

Medical workers presenting Noubia (C), the last known patient to contract Ebola in Guinea, during her release from a Doctors Without Borders treatment center in Conakry. (File photo: AFP)

Guinea was declared free of Ebola transmission on Tuesday after more than 2,500 people died from the virus in the West African nation, leaving Liberia as the only country still counting down the days until the end of the epidemic.

The announcement made at a ceremony in the capital comes 42 days after the last Ebola patient tested negative for a second time. The country now enters a 90-day period of heightened surveillance, the U.N. World Health Organization said.

The world’s worst Ebola outbreak began in Gueckedou, eastern Guinea, in December 2013 before spreading to Liberia, Sierra Leone and seven other countries. In all, more than 11,300 people died, almost all in the three worst-affected nations.

Despite Tuesday’s milestone, people in the capital, Conakry, greeted the declaration with mixed emotions, given the deaths and the damage the virus did to the economy and the country’s health and education sectors.

About 6,200 children have been left orphaned, said Rene Migliani, from Guinea’s Ebola coordination centre.

“Never has an epidemic caused so much harm to Guinea as Ebola. If the government and its foreign partners have succeeded in vanquishing the disease we can only thank God,” said local resident Mamady Traore.

Nevertheless, concern remains that new cases could re-emerge even though all the original chains of person-to-person transmission have been broken and there are currently no cases.

“The time-limited persistence of virus in survivors which may give rise to new Ebola flares in 2016 makes it imperative that partners continue to support these countries,” said Bruce Aylward, WHO special representative for Ebola response.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46