Guinea is finally declared Ebola

Dr Michael Jacobs of the Royal Free Hospital

Two years after the Ebola outbreak began in Guinea and traveled around the world, killing more than 11,300, the country was declared free of the virus on Tuesday.

"WHO commends the government of Guinea and its people on the significant achievement of ending its Ebola outbreak", Dr. Mohamed Belhocine a WHO Representative in Guinea, said in a statement.

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. Transmitted through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, Ebola killed more than 2,500 people in Guinea.

The announcement is being viewed as an important milestone in the fight against the outbreak where at one point real fears of a global contagion gripped communities across the world.

World Health Organization recently announced that Guinea is Ebola free.

The Ebola flares appear to have started in survivors, who face many challenges as the virus can persist in their bodies for many months, even when it has cleared from the bloodstream.

Dr Dan Martin of the Royal Free Hospital
Dr Dan Martin of the Royal Free Hospital

"We must render homage to the Government and people of Guinea who, in adversity, have shown extraordinary leadership in fighting the epidemic".

Guinea had the fewest Ebola cases of the three countries, but its bigger size, extensive remote areas and a stigma and distrust of health workers allowed the outbreak to persist longer here.

The outbreak claimed the first lives in December 2013 but only made headlines in March 2014 in Guinea, before quickly spreading to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim congratulated the Government and people of Guinea on reaching "this important milestone", but called for continued vigilance to stay at zero cases.

"The coming months will be absolutely critical", said Dr Bruce Aylward, Special Representative of the Director-General for the Ebola Response, WHO.

The support will be essential to help the three countries maintain their capacity to respond to any flare-ups of Ebola while they also focus on rebuilding their health sectors and restart public health programs, particularly in maternal and child health. Also, as the scientific community's understanding of Ebola has grown during the crisis, we have learned that it is more tenacious than we once thought - with its ability to disappear from our blood while still lurking in other places, such as the eye and semen, where it can come back and cause havoc again.

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