The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Sierra Leone Ebola free. 42 days, the two Ebola virus incubation cycles, have now passed since the last person confirmed to have Ebola virus disease had a second negative blood test.
“Since Sierra Leone recorded the first Ebola case in May 2014, a total number of 8 704 people were infected and 3 589 have died, 221 of them healthcare workers, all of whom we remember on this day,” says Dr Anders Nordström, WHO’s representative in Sierra Leone.
The country now enters a 90-day period of enhanced surveillance which will run until 5 February 2016 and WHO will continue to support Sierra Leone during this period. This new phase is critical for ensuring early detection of any possible new cases of Ebola virus disease.
The WHO has commended the government of Sierra Leone on achieving this significant milestone in the country’s fight against Ebola. Sierra Leone achieved this milestone through tremendous hard work and commitment while battling the most unprecedented Ebola virus disease outbreak in human history.
Sierra Leone experienced a massive rise in cases in September and October 2014 which was curbed by putting in place treatment facilities, setting up safe and dignified burial teams and working with communities to identify and stop Ebola.
The use of rapid response teams and strong community involvement became the cornerstone of the national response strategy. International partners supported the government to maintain a rapid response capacity to detect, identify and shut down any new transmission chains, and also contributed technical assistance, personnel, food, supplies and equipment.
The Ebola outbreak has decimated families, the health system, the economy and social structures. All need to recover. It has also left an estimated 4 000 survivors who have on-going health problems who need medical care and social support.
WHO will maintain an enhanced staff presence in Sierra Leone during this transition from outbreak control, to enhanced vigilance, to the recovery of essential health services.
“We now have a unique opportunity to support Sierra Leone to build a strong and resilient public health system ready to detect and respond to the next outbreak of disease, or any other public health threat,” says Dr Nordström.
Says Stellar Diamonds…
Stellar Diamonds, the AIM-listed diamond development company focused on West Africa, welcomes the announcement made by the WHO. The company, which is in the process of preparing the submission for its mining licence for the Tongo kimberlite diamond project in Sierra Leone remains committed to supporting the recovery of Sierra Leone and the wider West African region.
Says Sierra Rutile…
Commenting on the news, Sierra Rutile‘s CEO, John Sisay, says: “The ebola-free announcement is an important milestone in the history of Sierra Leone. It has been a challenging period for the country and our company. Sierra Leone can now focus on rebuilding its economy and harnessing our community spirit and national ambition to bring back foreign investors, strengthen the private sector, diversify its economic activity, and bring growth and prosperity to the people of this country.”
“While Sierra Rutile experienced no cases of Ebola and all our employees stayed safe, there was a considerable strain on our people and operations were, at times, impacted by indirect issues associated with the outbreak.”
“These impacts have been declining for some time now, evidenced by October being Sierra Rutile’s highest ever month of rutile production of 13 710 t and we remain on track to meet our full year rutile production guidance. Looking forward, we have some exciting further growth opportunities with our Gangama and Sembehun expansion projects, and we are well placed to benefit from any future uptick in mineral sands prices.”