Sierra Leone to be Declared Ebola Free on Saturday

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Sierra Leone is expected to be declared Ebola free on Saturday, when the West African nation will have completed the required 42 days without any new infections.

Excitement over this declaration is however muted with neighbouring Guinea still struggling to defeat the virus.

In mid-October, Ebola was found in a 25-year old pregnant woman and two of her children in Forecariah district, bear the Sierra Leone border.

The virus has killed almost 4,000 people in Sierra Leone since the first case was reported in the West African region in March 2014.

Palo Conteh, the head of the Sierra Leone Ebola response told a news conference in Freetown that there were no plans for “an elaborate celebration.”

World Health Organization (WHO) will deliver the formal declaration of the end of the epidemic in the capital on Saturday.

The announcement will mark the official end of the battle which was prematurely thought to have been nearing its conclusion on previous occasions.

Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma led a festive ceremony non August 24, celebrating the discharge of the country’s last known patient but the optimist was shattered by the deaths of a 67 year-old woman, then two weeks later a 16 year-old girl.

While the primary cost of the outbreak has been in human life, the crisis has also wiped out development gains in Sierra Leone, which was devastated by 11 years of civil war ending in 2002.

The World Bank estimates that Sierra Leone will lose at least $1.4 billion in economic growth in 2015 as a result, leading to an “unprecedented” GDP contraction of 23.5%.

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