December 15, 2017

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Sierra Leone count downs to being Ebola-free

Sierra Leone count downs to being Ebola-free

It had been five months since an Ebola death when Musa Kamara traveled to his hometown for festivities to mark the end of Ramadan. Not long after his sudden death in this roadside village, authorities came with a grim message: The killer virus was back.

Soon officials barricaded this community of nearly 600 people, putting up orange plastic fencing to quarantine half the town for the 21-day Ebola incubation period after potential exposure.

But late last week, residents who could only talk to family on the other side of the fence by phone erupted into song and dance when President Ernest Bai Koroma came to cut it down, marking the formal end of Sierra Leone’s largest remaining quarantine.

Alie Senkoh, 21, said he couldn’t wait to “move all around town” after days of playing cards and dice at home with his aunt and grandmother.

“We are feeling good because we are healthy and there is no more Ebola here,” he said. “We believe this was the only way to stop the transmission.”

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Even amid the jubilation, there was reason for caution. Authorities continue to monitor dozens of others who came into contact with 23-year-old Kamara, his mother and uncle, who later became infected. Both are recovering, health authorities said. The World Health Organization announced Monday that 43 people will remain in quarantine until the end of this week, while 38 others in the capital, Freetown, where Kamara lived, must stay in quarantine until Aug. 29. Read more

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