Ebola battle nears landmark as Guinea to be declared disease-free

A key moment in the battle against the world’s deadliest outbreak of Ebola will be reached today when Guinea, the first of three west African states struck by the epidemic, is declared free of the disease. The last known case in Guinea is a three-month-old baby named Nubia, who was born with the disease but whose recovery was confirmed on November 16. That started the countdown to Tuesday’s expected announcement, as a period of 42 days – twice the virus’s incubation period – is required to declare a country Ebola-free. A World Health Organization representative is expected to make the hugely anticipated announcement in Conakry, the Guinean capital, later today.

It’s the best year-end present that God could give to Guinea, and the best news that Guineans could hope for.

Alama Kambou Dore, an Ebola survivor

One of the poorest nations in the world, Guinea leapt to global prominence after becoming the host country for “patient zero” – an infant, Emile Ouamouno, who on December 2013 became the outbreak’s first of 2,500 fatalities. The Ebola fever spread stealthily and terrifyingly, striking two neighbouring countries, Sierra Leone and Liberia, with sporadic cases also in Mali, Nigeria and Senegal. The WHO officially declared Sierra Leone Ebola-free on November 7, triggering wild celebrations in the capital Freetown. On December 3, Liberia released its last two known Ebola cases from hospital, starting the six-week countdown.

We have to be very careful, because even if open transmission has been stopped, the disease has not been totally defeated.

Alpha Seny Souhmah, a Guinean health technician who himself was infected but survived