The “last known Ebola survivor” in Liberia was yesterday, March 5, discharged from the Chinese-run Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU).
Ms. Beatrice Yardoldo, 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 held at the Chinese ETU, Ms. Yardoldo 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 survive.
“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,” Ms. Yardoldo narrated.
She stated 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.
In his remarks, the Chinese Charge d’Affaires at the Chinese Embassy near Monrovia, Mr. Pang Hanzhao, congratulated the China ETU team for their “arduous work and hard efforts” to make “one more miracle happen in the fight against Ebola.” He recalled an old saying in China that one who survives a great disaster is destined to good fortune forever after.
Mr. Pang assured the Liberian Government that “China will not be absent in the post-Ebola recovery endeavor of Liberia.”
Ms. Rose L. Barbuto, Officer in Charge of the UN Mission Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), stated that Beatrice’s survival, and the survival of thousands of Liberians, is a testimony to the resilience of the Liberian people. “Surviving Ebola is no easy task. The people of Liberia are the true heroes. They have stopped this disease in its tracks and for this, the world should be thankful.
“Liberia has gone 13 days without a new confirmed case of Ebola.” She stressed that while the progress made so far is a great achievement, the country has not yet been declared Ebola-free and that everyone must stay focused.
For his part, Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah, Head of Liberia’s Incident Management System (IMS), said the day was of significance for Liberia, declaring that “In the past 13 days since February 20th, the entire Republic of Liberia has gone without a confirmed Ebola virus disease.”
He further stated that at least 13 of Liberia’s 15 counties have exceeded 42 days without any confirmed Ebola cases. He however stressed that all of this did not signify that Liberia is now Ebola-free.
He clarified that Liberia has to go at least straight 42 days without a confirmed case before it can be declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization (WHO). So the country now counts 29 more days to be free of the virus if no new confirmed cases are recorded.