A YEAR after the Ebola virus was first confirmed in Sierra
Leone, the number of new cases has reached an all-time low, but the
country cannot be declared free of the disease until 42 days have
passed without a new case.
Last week, eight new cases were reported in the country, down
from a peak of 500 a week last winter. Ebola virus was first
confirmed in Sierra Leone on 25 May last year, two months after it
had reached neighbouring Guinea.
In the past year, more than 8600 people there have been
infected, and 3500 have died from it.
Sierra Leone's other neighbour, Liberia, has been declared free
of the virus, although the porous borders between the countries
have prompted medics to urge caution rather than celebration (News, 15
Christian Aid's programme manager for the Ebola-virus emergency
response, Alpha Sankoh, who is based in Freetown, the capital of
Sierra Leone, said that the country was "finally showing signs of a
returning to normal. Infection rates have been consistently low
lately, but the road to zero is a bumpy one: earlier this month, we
went eight consecutive days without a new case, but this week new
cases have resurfaced. Consequently, we still have some way to
The agency is calling for social and economic support to be
given to survivors of the virus, their families, and the
hardest-hit communities. It would like to see the traditional
healers in Sierra Leone being trained to help prevent the spread of
The country's medical infrastructure, which was weak before the
virus, is now on the verge of collapse. More than 300 health
workers there have been infected with Ebola and more than 220 have
died, the World Health Organization reports.