Guinea heaved a sigh of relief today as the country has been declared Ebola-freefollowing the completion of its 42-day incubation period. The countdown began on November 16 when the last Ebola patient, a baby girl named Nubia, survived the virus. Altogether, the epidemic lasted for two years, resulting in the loss of 2,500 lives, affecting several sectors of the Guinean economy.
The government of Guinea, many non-governmental organisations and other representatives of global donors will hold an official ceremony on Wednesday the 30th of December, in Conakry to mark this achievement. They will also use the opportunity to pay their respects to the health workers and members of an Ebola awareness team who died in the fight against the disease. Guinea joins Sierra Leone (declared free in November 7) as an Ebola-free country, leaving Liberia as the only country still battling with the virus.
The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa was traced to Meliandou, a village in Gueckedou, Guinea in March, 2013. At the end of the month, it had spread to Liberia and by May it was present in Sierra Leone, while Nigeria, Mali and Senegal confirmed Ebola cases in their countries by the end of July. Throughout West Africa, the Ebola virus claimed an estimate of 11,000 lives from the 29,000 cases that were recorded. The 2013 – 2015 Ebola episode in the region is the worst since its discovery in 1976.
With this win in Guinea, it is likely that the society and economy will resume their normal activities. It is expected that a recent health quarantine placed on Guineans travelling to Canada will be lifted for Guineans soon, as was the case for Sierra Leone.
Despite the current high spirits in Guinea, health experts are asking people to remain cautious to prevent the disease from resurfacing, considering Liberia’s struggle to hold the status of being Ebola free.