Sierra Leone declares end of Ebola epidemic

Sierra Leone’s Ebola epidemic is declared over, following 42 days with no new cases.

KIKWIT, ZAIRE (FILE – MAY 14, 1995) (REUTERS) – Sierra Leone’s Ebola epidemic was declared over on Saturday (November 7), following 42 days with no new cases.

Ebola has killed more than 11,300 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea since the epidemic was announced in March 2014 and about 28,500 were infected, according to World Health Organization (WHO) data. Sierra Leone’s death toll was 3,955 people.

Liberia was declared free of Ebola on September 3, while a handful of cases remain in Guinea.

The 42-day countdown to be declared Ebola-free starts when the last patient tests negative a second time, normally after a 48-hour gap following their first negative test.

The country now enters a 90-day period of surveillance with support from the WHO, which said the monitoring phase was critical to ensure early detection of any possible new cases.

Fear of the virus transformed the three countries and hampered efforts in Sierra Leone and Liberia to recover from civil wars.

At the height of the epidemic, authorities in Sierra Leone and Liberia ordered people to stay indoors for days at a time in an attempt to identify new cases and slow the disease’s spread.