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The last two Ebola patients in Sierra Leone

The last two Ebola patients in Sierra Leone

Recovery


The final Ebola patient left her handprint on our survivor wall marking the countdown to the country being declared Ebola free.

The countdown to Ebola free for Sierra Leone

The loss of a young man|Treatment for relatives|Final survivors sent home

Graveyard in Sierra Leone

In late July, a young man returned to his home village of Massesebe in Northern Sierra Leone, to celebrate the Eid festival with his family.

 

Within days the man was dead from Ebola.

His death brought to an end a period of 150 days during which Tonkolili district had been Ebola free.

As so often throughout this crisis, it was his closest family who had cared for him through his illness that were now at the greatest risk.

The last two patients

Alhaji leaves his handprint on the Ebola survivor wall in Sierra Leone

On July 31 the International Medical Corps Ebola Treatment Centre near Makeni, received two new patients, Alhaji, the 36 year old cousin of the man from Massesebe and 24 hours later, Adama, 35 the dead man’s mother.

Both patients responded well to treatment and on Wednesday Alhaji received his second negative Ebola test result which means he could go home. His aunt still tested positive and so had to join in the celebrations of her nephew's release watching across the fence from the Red Zone.

Adama leaves her survivor handprint

Adama makes her handprint in Sierra Leone

This story is in many ways unremarkable. It has been repeated hundreds of times at the ETU in Makeni and across Sierra Leone.

Yet Adama’s story is momentous. With her discharge today, Sierra Leone has reached the milestone of having zero confirmed Ebola cases anywhere in the country for the first time since the crisis began in May 2014.

If no new cases are confirmed for 42 days, then Sierra Leone will officially be declared Ebola free.

It's cause for celebration but the fight is not over

This is not the end of the fight against Ebola. Today begins the 42 day countdown, which if no new cases are confirmed, then we can declare Sierra Leone Ebola free. We have seen many setbacks before, and nobody should be complacent about the challenge that lies ahead for the people of Sierra Leone. But today is without doubt a day for celebration and reflection on the thousands of lives lost during this devastating crisis.

Across West Africa, in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, International Medical Corps is working with communities and governments to ensure that we can, in the near future, genuinely declare this Ebola outbreak over and help people to rebuild. Just as important are our efforts to build the resilience of communities against future outbreaks so the whole region, including in Mali and Guinea-Bissau are better prepared for outbreaks in the future.

Sean Casey, Regional Director - West Africa Ebola Response International Medical Corps


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