Just a day after the World Health Organization declared West Africa ebola-free, a corpse found in Sierra Leone has tested positive for the disease.
A 22-year-old woman’s corpse, who died about a month ago, was tested and confirmed to be carrying the virus. She came from the Northern Kambia District and went to the Northern Tonkolili District for medical attention. Authorities are tracing her contacts, and quarantining certain areas.
The World Health Organization confirmed the new case that comes during a 90-day period of heightened surveillance, saying Sierra Leone’s government acted rapidly.
WHO had just declared the deadliest Ebola outbreak ever to have ceased just yesterday, after no new cases emerged in Liberia. It had been at least two weeks since ebola had been seen in Guinea or Sierra Leone; these three countries were most affected by the epidemic that began two years ago.
“Our level of preparedness and response capabilities are very high and there is no cause for concern,” said Francis Langoba Kellie, spokesman for the Office of National Security.
“We encourage the public to continue to practice the hygiene regulations which were in force during the period while Ebola was raging and the emergency regulations are still in force.”
Sierra Leone was declared cured from ebola transmission on Nov. 7, after it claimed nearly 4,000 lives in the region. Liberia was originally declared free of ebola in May, but new incidents emerged twice, causing the counter to be reset. They had no cases up until yesterday.
WHO says that flare-up cases, such as in Liberia, “are likely the result of the virus persisting in survivors even after recovery.” They’re also discerned with the concrete findings that the virus can remain in the semen of some male survivors up to a year later.