Guinea: Ebola Free; All Of Africa’s Countdown Progresses — To Mid January 2016

This is truly excellent (almost new year’s) news. Even so, as the global communications folks at W.H.O. point out below, the “recovery” is as yet quite fragile — especially in Liberia.

We will keep you apprised — as the “all-Africa clearance date” approaches — but here is a bit:

. . . .The end of Ebola transmission in Guinea marks an important milestone in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The original chain of transmission started two years ago in Gueckedou, Guinea in late December 2013 and drove the outbreak which spread to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone and, ultimately, by land and air travel to seven other countries.

“This is the first time that all three countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – have stopped the original chains of transmission that were responsible for starting this devastating outbreak two years ago,” says Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “I commend the governments, communities and partners for their determination in confronting this epidemic to get to this milestone. As we work towards building resilient health care systems, we need to stay vigilant to ensure that we rapidly stop any new flares that may come up in 2016.”

In addition to the original chain of transmission, there have been 10 new small Ebola outbreaks (or ‘flares’) between March and November 2015. These appear to have been due to the re-emergence of a persistent virus from the survivor population.

Among the challenges survivors have faced is that after recovering from Ebola virus disease and clearing the virus from their bloodstream, the virus may persist in the semen of some male survivors for as long as 9-12 months.

WHO and its partners are working with the Governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to help ensure that survivors have access to medical and psychosocial care, screening for persistent virus, as well as counselling and education to help them reintegrate into family and community life, reduce stigma and minimize the risk of Ebola virus transmission. . . .

Onward, then — to a hope-filled 2016!

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