Suspected Ebola death in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Health Ministry reports suspected Ebola death shortly after WHO declares West Africa Ebola-free

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Health workers carry the body of an Ebola virus victim in Kenema, the third largest city in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's Health Ministry said on Thursday it was investigating a suspected Ebola death in Tonkolili district, hours after the World Health Organisation (WHO) said transmission of the virus in West Africa had ended.

"A suspected Ebola death has been reported in Tonkolili district today," said a note sent by the ministry to health officials in the country and seen by Reuters. 

"The Ministry of Health and Sanitation has dispatched a team supported by international partners to investigate the suspected death and its circumstances."

The message did not specify if the body of the deceased had already been tested for the virus and health officials were not immediately available for further comment. The symptoms of Ebola resemble those of other diseases such as malaria.

Earlier on Thursday, neighbouring Liberia was declared free of the Ebola virus by global health experts on Thursday, a milestone that signalled an end to an epidemic in West Africa that has killed more than 11,300 people.

"All known chains of transmission have been stopped in West Africa," the WHO, an UN agency, said on Thursday.

The other affected countries, Guinea and Sierra Leone, were declared Ebola-free late last year. There were cases in seven other countries including Nigeria, the United States and Spain, but almost all the deaths were in the West African nations.

WHO warned there could still be flare-ups of the disease in the region, which has suffered the world's deadliest outbreak over the past two years, as survivors can carry the virus for months and could pass it on.

TRTWorld, Reuters