No new cases of Ebola reported for first time since March 2014 – UN health agency

Mobile phones with solar-powered chargers are distributed to all Ebola-quarantined homes in Sella Kafta, Sierra Leone, allowing them to stay in touch with friends and family, which lessens anxiety and resentment.
Mobile phones with solar-powered chargers are distributed to all Ebola-quarantined homes in Sella Kafta, Sierra Leone, allowing them to stay in touch with friends and family, which lessens anxiety and resentment. Photo: WHO Sierra Leone/S. Gborie

There were no new cases of Ebola reported in West Africa in the week ending last Sunday, making it the first week since March 2014 with zero cases recorded in the three countries most affected by the outbreak, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which cautioned that there remains a near-term risk of new cases.

“While the news is very encouraging, there are still a number of high risk contacts,” UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric cautioned during the regular press briefing at UN Headquarters today. “Previous experience indicates that at the tail end of an Ebola outbreak, we may see weeks with zero transmission interspersed with some flare-ups.”

WHO, in its latest update ending on Sunday, 4 October, stated that no new cases were reported in Guinea and Sierra Leone. Liberia was declared free of Ebola virus transmission in the human population on 3 September 2015.

To date, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has resulted in more than 11,000 deaths.

“This is the first time that a complete epidemiological week has elapsed with zero confirmed cases since March 2014,” the latest WHO report update said.

“All contacts have now completed follow-up in Sierra Leone,” it said. “However, over 500 contacts remain under follow-up in Guinea, and several high-risk contacts associated with active and recently active chains of transmission in Guinea and Sierra Leone have been lost to follow-up.”

WHO cautioned: “There remains a near-term risk of further cases.

The health agency also said that “robust” surveillance measures are needed to ensure the rapid detection of any reintroduction or re-emergence of Ebola in currently unaffected areas.