The West African nation of Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday marking 42 days since the last infection. The deadly virus caused the deaths of 11,300 people in the West African region with 4,000 of those deaths occurring in Sierra Leone.
According to Reuters, thousands attended a candlelight vigil in Freetown, the nation’s capital. The vigil was intended to honor the health workers who died while treating those infected with Ebola.
About 220 health workers died as a result of treating Ebola patients, most of these deaths were due to inadequate protective equipment and training. Several residents of the city were seen celebrating the news.
The Ebola epidemic hurt Sierra Leone’s economy, overwhelmed its healthcare system, and forced the closure of local schools.
According to the WHO the Sierra Leone will now be placed in a 90-day period of surveillance. This monitoring phase will be crucial to ensuring the early detection of Ebola cases.
Speaking to Reuters one WHO official also noted the importance of building a strong public health system within Sierra Leone to better prepare the country for other disease outbreaks.