Sierra Leone officials have confirmed a death from Ebola, hours after the World Health Organization declared the latest West Africa outbreak over.
A spokesman at an Ebola Response Center in Sierra Leone, Sidi Tunis, said that the patient got sick at a town bordering Guinea. Health officials are tracing anyone who may have had contact with the deceased. The BBC reported that the country was declared free of the virus on November 7, and the region as a whole, was cleared when Liberia was pronounced Ebola-free on Thursday.The new case was confirmed on Friday, hours after the WHO gave the region an all-clear. It made the proclamation after Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea halted the chain of transmission simultaneously for the first time.
The clearance was notable because it meant the three nations hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak had reported zero cases for at least 42 days. Close to 4,000 people have died of Ebola in Sierra Leone, and 11,000 people across the region, since December 2013. Liberia was the last country to see the end of active transmission of Ebola. But it had been declared clear twice before, only for the infection to re-emerge. A country is considered free of human-to-human transmission once two 21-day incubation periods have passed since the last known case tested negative for a second time. Evidence shows the virus can remain in the semen of male survivors for as long as a year. In rare instances, it can be transmitted to sexual partners.