The Ebola epidemic has claimed around 11,300 lives in West Africa. The World Health Organization has revealed that more than 99% of these occurred in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Massessbe, a predominantly agricultural village some 200 kilometers (120 miles) from the capital of Sierra Leone, went on alert three weeks ago after a trader from Freetown who was visiting his mother tested positive for Ebola and later died. Following this, Sierra Leone had laid a lockdown in Massessbe that had kept more than 500 residents in quarantine. President Ernest Bai Koroma on Friday announced the end of the lockdown period and said that only two people were still being treated for the virus nationwide.
Koroma himself cut the yellow ribbon that had ringed the village to mark the completion of the standard 21-day quarantine period. A health ministry official said, "None of the villagers tested positive (for Ebola)." 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 also cautioned against complacency in the fight against the receding virus.
Koroma said, "Only two patients (both in the northern district of Bombali) are in treatment centers throughout the country. But you should not rest until Ebola is eradicated. Our efforts should be sustained until the last case is discharged. I shall be making on-the-spot checks across the country."
Ibrahim Sesay, the director of the National Ebola Response Center's Situation Room, said, "With no cases emerging in the village, the country was making progress in its battle against hemorrhagic fever. We are doing 90% better. 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."