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Sierra Leone discharges last known Ebola patient

By on February 9, 2016

Sierra Leone’s last known Ebola patient has been released from hospital, medical officials said on Monday,allowing authorities to begin a six-week countdown before declaring the West African country free of the virus once more.

Memunatu Kalokoh,38, was discharged on Friday, said Col. Sahr Foday, the head of the Sierra Leone Army Medical Unit where she was admitted.

Health ministry spokesman Sidi Yahyah Tunis said this meant the country had again started the 42-day countdown after which the outbreak will be declared over if there are no new cases.

Even after that, however, the WHO said cases like this one are likely to re-emerge as efforts continue to stamp out the virus that killed more than 11,300 people in two years, mostly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Dozens of people who may have come into contact with Jalloh before she died remain missing, and the health ministry has urged them to come forward. That effort has been hampered by fear and suspicion in local communities.

Sierra Leone was first declared free of Ebola in November before Jalloh’s case emerged and raised fears of a new upsurge. Health experts expressed concern that many of the routine procedures established to contain the virus were not carried out in her case.

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