Following the discovery of a fresh case of the deadly Ebola virus, Liberian authorities called for calm, more than two months after the epidemic had been declared over in the country.
The latest victim was a 30-year-old woman who died on Thursday while being transferred to hospital in the capital Monrovia. The country's health ministry put out a statement urging citizens "not to panic in the wake of the new Ebola case". There was no news on the origins of the latest case, after Liberia was declared Ebola-free, for a second time, in January.
‘A new case of ebola in Liberia was discovered days after a resurgence in neighbouring Guinea which has killed seven people in the last few weeks.’
"We continue to investigate the source of transmission of this newer flare-up," deputy health minister Tolbert Nyensuah told AFP. Liberian authorities and their partners, including the World Health Organisation, "are on top of this. We know what to do now, we can contain it, we can control it. No need to panic," he said.
The new case in Liberia was discovered days after a resurgence of Ebola in neighbouring Guinea which has killed seven people in the last few weeks. Liberia briefly closed its border with Guinea following the announcement of new cases there, but it has subsequently reopened it, several Guinean sources confirmed to AFP.
Sierra Leone announced beefed up security measures along with screening and surveillance points at all border crossings with Guinea on Thursday. Liberia was the country worst hit by the outbreak of the disease which has claimed 11,300 lives since December 2013, the vast majority in the three West Africa countries.
The WHO had said on Tuesday that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa no longer constituted an international emergency, voicing confidence that remaining isolated cases in the affected countries can be contained. But a significant number of deaths are believed to have gone unreported and "flare-ups" relating to the persistence of the virus in survivors' bodies pose ongoing challenges.
Ebola causes severe fever and muscle pain, weakness, vomiting and diarrhoea. In many cases it shuts down organs and causes unstoppable internal bleeding. Patients often succumb within days. The virus is spread through close contact with the sweat, vomit, blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person, or the recently deceased.
Some Monrovia residents, showing no signs of panic, told AFP that at first the news of a fresh outbreak of Ebola had seemed like an April Fools' joke. "It is worrisome to hear that Ebola is back, but I am confident that it will pass. I am sure that it will never be like the first time," said saleswoman Agnes Mulbah.