New confirmed Ebola case in Liberia

A new case of Ebola was confirmed Friday in Liberia, less than three months after that country was declared free of the deadly virus and only three days after the World Health Organization announced the end of an international emergency to contain and eliminate it.

The W.H.O. said in a statement that the Liberian health authorities had convened an emergency meeting to coordinate a rapid response after the confirmation of the new case, a 30-year-old woman who died on Thursday outside Monrovia, the capital. Health officials immediately began to identify people who may have come into contact with her.

Liberia’s neighbor Guinea, which had been declared free of Ebola in December, also has been confronting a new cluster of cases that first emerged in February. The W.H.O. said in a separate statement on Friday that the Guinean health authorities had been using an experimental vaccine in an effort to contain that flare-up, injecting nearly 800 people who have come into contact with the eight known patients, all in two southern prefectures.

Ebola sickened more than 28,000 people and killed more than 11,300 after an outbreak in Guinea in December of 2013 that spread rapidly to Liberia and Sierra Leone, creating global alarm about the virus and its ease of transmission through physical contact. An outpouring of international resources was mobilized to help fight it.

The W.H.O. declared on Tuesday that the three West African countries now have the ability to contain smaller resurgences of Ebola and the “likelihood of international spread is low.” The organization also formally downgraded the response so it is no longer classified as a public health emergency of international concern. Dr. Margaret Chan, the organization’s director general, used the occasion to call on other countries to rescind any bans on travel and trade to the three countries.

At the same time, the organization warned that small flare-ups of Ebola were likely in the coming months because of its persistence in some survivors, and said that the three countries must “must maintain strong capacity to prevent, detect and respond to further outbreaks.” The organization has maintained a staff of nearly 1,000 in the region to help if needed.

The new case in Liberia represents the third flare-up there since the initial outbreak there was declared over last May. The second Liberian outbreak happened in November and ended in mid-January.

Sierra Leone currently has no known Ebola cases. An Ebola death was last confirmed there in January. culled www.newyorktimes

photo: www.theodysseyonline.com

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