Two years after the first case of Ebola was detected, triggering the worst outbreak of the virus in history, Guinea, the country where the outbreak began, has finally been declared free of the disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared on Tuesday (Dec. 29).
“WHO commends the government of Guinea and its people on the significant achievement of ending its Ebola outbreak,” Dr. Mohamed Belhocine, WHO Representative in Guinea, said in a statement.
The last patient diagnosed with Ebola in the country, a three-week old girl, has tested negative of the virus twice within the last 42 days, the yardstick experts use to determine whether someone is free of the infection.
What researchers have declared the worst outbreak of Ebola began in eastern Guinea and quickly spread to neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia, claiming over 11,000 lives in the process. Guinea alone lost 2,500 people to the disease.
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.
“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,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Africa director, said.
Guinea now enters into a 3-month period of “heightened surveillance” to contain any new instances of infections to ensure they do not spread.