Freetown, capital city of the West African Republic Sierra Leone, was celebrating last night, as the World Health Organization officially declared the end of the Ebola outbreak in the country.
Following a catastrophic year, this is a hugely positive step for the people of Western Africa. More than 11,300 people tragically lost their lives to the virus in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea since the epidemic was first announced in March of last year. With a period of 42 days having passed in Sierra Leone with no new cases being announced, the authorities are confident in making the official statement.
Anders Nordstrom, the UN agency representative for the country, made the following announcement earlier today:
“Today, November 7, 2015, the World Health Organization declares the end of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone,”
Neighboring country Liberia was declared Ebola-free in September and, combined with today’s news, stands as a testament to the aid workers and medical organizations who risked their lives to assist a nation in crisis. President Ernest Bai Koroma gave an optimistic, but reflective speech in Freetown on Friday:
“Ebola has ended but we must be prepared for a re-emergence and we are retaining some laboratory testing capacities and treatment centres. But we are confident we now have a system in place to respond. “The heroism of the 35,000 Ebola response workers is without parallel and I am here today as head-of-state to say we have overcome the virus,” said Kororma.
Sierra Leone slipped into a state of severe recession following the outbreak. Perhaps now they will be able to get back on the road to recovery.