Monrovia - FrontPageAfrica has reliably learnt that the deadly Ebola virus outbreak has resurfaced in the country months after Liberia was declared free of the outbreak.
Multiple sources confirmed to FrontPageAfrica Friday that a woman who recently returned from neighbouring Guinea when the virus has flared up again, brought the virus to the community.
But Tolbert Nyensuah, Deputy Minister of Health and Social Welfare, who confirmed the report clarified that authorities are still trying to determine the source of the latest case.
“What we do know is that a 30-year-old female was taken to the Redemption Hospital where she died of the virus,” the minister said.
Minister Nyensuah, explained that over the past few months, authorities have been testing every corpse to determine whether the death was a result of Ebola.
“We have the equipment now to determine and test for Ebola with rapid response and we have been testing corpses. In this case, we conducted two test and it was confirmed that the woman died from Ebola.
Our next task now is to determine the source, where it came from. We have been working diligently in the last 24 hours but we are confident that we will put this under control.”
The outbreak in Guinea has killed seven people, even as the World Health Organization voiced confidence that remaining isolated cases could be contained.
The WHO said on Tuesday that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa no longer constituted an international emergency, but the announcement of new cases demonstrated the difficulty of managing the aftermath of the virus.
The outbreak resurfaced in Guinea two weeks ago when a man, two of his wives and his daughter were announced by the Guinean health authorities. A third wife and a mother-in-law also died after becoming infected in the village of Koropara.
"On March 30, there are nine registered cases and seven deaths: three suspected and four confirmed," said Fode Tass Sylla, spokesman for Guinea's Ebola response unit. Outside the family, a man died on March 22 after testing positive for Ebola in the city of Nzerekore.
Two more people - one suspected case and one confirmed - were receiving treatment at a dedicated Ebola facility in southern Guinea, not far from the Liberian border, Sylla said.
Guinea was declared free of Ebola transmission at the end of last year, though a significant number of deaths are believed to have gone unreported and "flare-ups" relating to the persistence of the virus in survivors' bodies pose ongoing challenges.
A WHO Ebola report released on Wednesday said the virus present in the blood of one of the confirmed cases was "closely related to (the) virus that circulated in south-eastern Guinea in November 2014".
More than a thousand people who are believed to have come into contact with the victims are being monitored for symptoms and offered support by the authorities, with restrictions placed on their movements.
The deadliest-ever outbreak of the tropical disease emerged in the same region as the new cases in December 2013 and went on to kill more than 11 300 people, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
In January, the WHO declared the epidemic over in Liberia, effectively putting an end to the world's worst outbreak of the disease. The "end of active transmission" was declared, after 42 days without a new case in Liberia. However, the WHO warned at the time that West Africa may see flare-ups of the virus. It has killed more than 11,000 people since December 2013.
A country is considered free of human-to-human transmission once two 21-day incubation periods have passed since the last known case tested negative for a second time.
More than 17,000 Ebola survivors are dealing with a wide range of complications and social stigma. They include orphans with an uncertain future.
The economies of the three countries were also adversely affected. Sierra Leone was one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with double digit growth figures. But Ebola sank it into severe recession. International experts have already cautioned that the road to complete recovery will be long and treacherous and will ontinue to test the resilience of the three countries.
Last week, Liberia shut its border with Guinea as a precaution against the spread of resurging virus. “We have ordered the border with Guinea closed with immediate effect,” Mr. Nagbe said. “The border will remain closed until the situation in Guinea improves. We are not taking any chance at all.”
Sierra Leone also took precautions announcing that it had taken steps to guard against the outbreak. A statement from the government this week reads:
“The general public is hereby informed that following a meeting held at state house between his excellency the president, relevant sectoral ministers and the national security team on the resurgence of the Ebola virus disease in guinea, his excellency the president has directed that the following measures be implemented in our border areas with guinea with immediate effect:
(1) that military aid to the civil police (mac-p) be invoked in our border areas with guinea;
(2) that Ebola protocols, including screening and surveillance activities be instituted in all border crossing points with guinea; (3) that the national disaster management team should undertake a visit to the border regions with guinea, especially the Kailahun axis, with a view to heightening awareness and Ebola prevention control measures among the people in these areas; (4) the public is also advised to restrict movement to and from guinea. Sick people and corpses from guinea for burial in Sierra Leone should not be allowed during this time; (5) meanwhile, government will continue to monitor the situation in guinea closely and the general public is hereby encouraged to cooperate with the security and health personnel to keep Ebola in check.