Sierra Leone ends Ebola quarantine for 500 villagers
Sierra Leone has ended an Ebola lockdown in the northern village of Massessbe that had kept more than 500 residents in quarantine, as President Ernest Bai Koroma said only two people were still being treated for the virus nationwide.
Koroma himself on Friday cut the yellow ribbon that had ringed the village in the northern district of Tonkolili to mark the completion of the standard 21-day quarantine period, a State House release said.
"None of the villagers tested positive (for Ebola)," a health ministry official told AFP.
Koroma described the lifting of the last large-scale quarantine in the country as "a special day in the lives of the people", but he cautioned against "complacency in the fight against the receding virus", according to his speech which was broadcast on national radio on Saturday.
"Only two patients (both in the northern district of Bombali) are in treatment centres throughout the country", Koroma told the cheering villagers.
"But you should not rest until Ebola is eradicated," he said. "Our efforts should be sustained until the last case is discharged," he added, his voice occasionally drowned out by the sound of drums and animal horns.
"I shall be making on-the-spot checks across the country," Koroma warned, without giving further details.
Massessbe, a predominantly agricultural village some 200 kilometres (120 miles) from the capital, went on alert three weeks ago after a trader from Freetown who was visiting his mother tested positive for Ebola and later died.
But with no cases emerging in the village, the director of the National Ebola Response Centre's Situation Room, Ibrahim Sesay, said the country was making progress in its battle against haemorrhagic fever.
"We are doing 90 percent better," he told reporters.
"There has not been any new case of Ebola throughout the country for more than a week now and only 86 people are in quarantine nationwide."
Ebola has claimed around 11,300 lives since late 2013. More than 99 percent of these occurred in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization.
© 2015 AFP