Guinea has remained Ebola-free for a week, the World Health Organization (WHO) says in a situation report. Since the first outbreak of the virus that killed at least 11,200 people in West Africa, no new lab-confirmed cases have been reported in Guinea in the week to Nov. 8.
This is the first time the country remained Ebola-free since the full epidemic outbreak. This doesn't mean that the country is completely cleared however, as new cases could still exist but remain undetected.
The report does spark hope that the epidemic that infected more than 25,000 Africans could finally be at an end. Guinea is one of the last three countries to be heavily affected by the outbreak.
One of the West African countries to also be hit by Ebola, Sierra Leone, was officially declared Ebola-free on Saturday, Nov. 7.
"Both Liberia and Sierra Leone have now interrupted all remaining chains of Ebola virus transmission and Guinea reported no confirmed cases in the week to 8 November," the WHO reported last week.
Four new cases were found in Guinea last month. Since then, the people who had been at close contact with these patients have been closely monitored by healthcare workers. All contacts have undergone a 21-day follow-up period that will be completed on Nov. 14.
"There remains a near-term risk of further cases among both registered and untraced contacts," the WHO concluded from these findings, but adds the positive note that people from Guinea and other West African countries have systems in place that enable them to report illnesses or deaths that are suspected to be related to the virus.
An addition, everyone in Guinea who had come in contact with a new Ebola patient is immediately given a vaccine to prevent them from getting the disease. This vaccination campaign makes use of the ring vaccination strategy to provide immediate vaccination to first- and second-degree contacts of Ebola patients.
The cause for the occurrence of Ebola in West Africa is still unknown, though the spread has been attributed to contact and consumption of wild animal vectors like fruit bats and venison, and no one is confident that cases will not reemerge even in cleared regions.