It is now over 21 days in the entire nation that not a single confirmed Ebola case has been reported by health authorities. The countdown began on March 3 when the final test on the last known Ebola survivor proved negative.
From that day, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) standard, Liberia began to count 42 days, which are two incubation periods of the virus. It takes only one of those incubation periods for the virus to manifest itself in an affected person.
However, from the time the last confirmed case was recorded on February 19 in Montserrado County until today, Tuesday, the entire country has gone for more than 21 days without a recorded case. At least 13 of Liberia’s 15 political sub-divisions, excluding Montserrado and Margibi, before March 5 when the last survivor was discharged, had gone over 42 days without a confirmed case.
So, judging by WHO standard, today is exactly 14 days the entire country has gone without a recorded case. However, counting from February 19, when the last case was laboratory confirmed in the country, the entire nation has gone more than 21 days without a recorded case. The first 21 days ended on March 12, according to the Ministry of Health latest Situation Report (SitRep) released on March 12.
The “last known confirmed Ebola survivor” in Liberia was Thursday, March 5, discharged from the Chinese-run Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville City, outside Monrovia.
Mrs. Beatrice Yardolo, 59, had arrived at the ETU, located on the grounds of the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Monrovia, on February 18. She spent about 15 days in an intensive care enclosure within the Chinese ETU, which is managed by the medical team of the Chinese military contingent and assisted by Liberian nurses.
During a brief ceremony on the day of her discharge from the Chinese ETU, Mrs. Yardolo thanked the joint Chinese and Liberian medical team which looked after her.
She narrated that in January and February, three of her children died from the virus and when she, too, became infected, she didn’t think that she would have survived the deadly disease.
“I didn’t know I could make it. Since Ebola hit the country, the whole of last year went by [without it affecting any of us]. We gave testimonies in church that Ebola had passed by us. But in January and February, three of our children were taken away by the virus,” she narrated, sadly.
She stated that day that she was prepared to be stigmatized by people who don’t understand the nature of the disease, but once her family members are around to show her love, care and concern, she wouldn’t be moved.
At the same ceremony, Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah, Head of Liberia’s Incident Management System (IMS), the body which oversees the nation’s Ebola response programs, said that day was of significance for Liberia, declaring that “In the past 13 days since February 19th, the entire Republic of Liberia has gone without a confirmed case of Ebola virus disease.”
Mr. Nyenswah further stated that at least 13 of Liberia’s 15 counties had exceeded 42 days without any confirmed Ebola cases. He, however, stressed that all of that did not signify that Liberia was now Ebola-free.
He clarified that the entire nation has to go at least straight 42 days without a confirmed case before it can be declared Ebola-free by the WHO.
So, from today, Tuesday, March 17, the country has to now count at least 19 more days to be declared free of the virus if no new confirmed cases are recorded.
It would be mid-April 2015 that the “straight 42-day period” is over. And if those remaining days come and pass without a confirmed, recorded case of the virus, the WHO might declare Liberia free of the virus, which has killed more than 4, 115 persons in the country.