1117 GMT March 31, 2020
The WHO said on Saturday that no case of infection from Ebola has been reported over the past 42 days since the last patient was discharged on September 25 after two consecutive negative test results.
Anders Nordstrom, the Sierra Leone representative for the WHO, declared the end of the outbreak of the disease in the capital, Freetown, as hundreds of people cheered on the streets.
“WHO commends the government and people of Sierra Leone for the significant achievement of ending this Ebola outbreak,” the WHO representative said.
The incubation period for the Ebola is 21 days and the WHO declares a country free from the virus if no case of the infection is reported in two successive periods. The neighboring Liberia reached the target in September while Sierra Leone failed once in its 42-day countdown as a new case was reported in the meantime.
The outbreak of Ebola in Sierra Leone began in late 2013. It killed nearly 4,000 people. Guinea, Sierra Leone’s other neighbor and the country where Ebola first appeared, is the only remaining place struggling to get rid of the virus.
“This new phase is crucial as our goal is to ensure a resilient zero and that we can detect and respond to any potential flare-ups,” said Nordstrom, adding that the WHO staff will remain in Sierra Leone.
Other officials urged more vigilance even after the 42-day successful period.
“Until the entire West African region records zero cases and Sierra Leone continues with heightened vigilance beyond 42 days, and beyond 90 days, then and only then the region can think of true recovery,” said Alfred Palo Conteh, Chief Executive Officer of Sierra Leone's National Ebola Response Center.
The WHO has faced huge criticism over its response to Ebola since it began in West Africa two years ago. Nearly 11,000 people have lost their lives in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, although the world body has also blamed issues like weak leadership, shoddy supplies and infighting for the worsening of the situation in the three countries.