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Sierra Leone cautiously celebrates discharge of last known ebola case, countdown to ebola free begins

Sierra Leone discharges last known ebola patient August 241 Sierra Leone discharges last known ebola patient August 242 Sierra Leone discharges last known ebola patient August 243 Sierra Leone discharges last known ebola patient August 244 Sierra Leone discharges last known ebola patient August 245 Sierra Leone discharges last known ebola patient August 246

Today Adama Sankoh Sierra Leone’s last known ebola patient was discharged from the International Medical Corps Mateneh Ebola Treatment Centre on the outskirts of Makeni town.

Speaking at the discharge ceremony where she was admitted, Ms. Sankoh said that she grateful to the nurses at the treatment centre. She said eve when she had given up hope of surviving the virus, they were supportive and gave her care.

“I thought I would die,” she said.

She asked that the government  not abandon her as she transitioned back into her community.

“My son who died of ebola is the bread winner of this family, we are left with nothing and looking forward to what the authorities will provide for us to start a new life,” she appealed.

Ms. Sankoh and her second son 30 year-old Alhaji Sankoh contracted the Ebola virus from her eldest son Musa Kamara. Kamara a business man was visiting them at Massessebe Village, when he fell ill a few days later. He died at Mateneh ETC where he was diagnosed with ebola.

“The whole Village was quarantined when he was diagnosed, we never knew he had ebola but we thank God we have survived it and returning back to our people,” said a farmer who was discharged on Wednesday 19th August said.

Social Welfare Minister Moijueh Kaikai said that Ms. Sankoh would not go home empty handed. Like other survivors before her, she was to receive a discharge package of cooking utensils, food and non food items and SLL 300,000 in cash.

As President Ernest Bai Koroma handed Ms Sankoh her discharge certificate he reaffirmed his commitment to supporting over 4000 ebola survivors nationwide.

“ Whilst we should as well not forget the over 3000 victims, the government and its partners should help them [survivors] reintegrate to their communities.”

The President further said that Ms. Sankoh’s discharge marked the beginning of the end of the ebola virus in the country but warned against complacency.

Steve Gaoijia Coordinator at the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) said the discharge of the last ebola patient was an indication of how far the country had come in a coordinated effort from community level to international level support to fight a common enemy.

“We have learnt our lesson; we are still appealing that people follow the preventive measures so as to be able to manage our expectations and stay at zero.” Gaoijia said.

Bintou Keita, the United Nations Ebola Response Crisis Manager for Sierra Leone said the UN was joyful and happy to stand by  Sierra Leone until the battle was won.

“UNMEER is still around, we are not letting down our guard,” she added.

The count down to zero officially begins tomorrow, Tuesday 25th August 2015, if there are no new cases after 42 days Sierra Leone will join Liberia as the second nation in the Mano River Union to be declared ebola free.

Excited as expected perhaps tired of being at the front line fighting an enemy that has claimed the lives of over three thousand of their countrymen, health workers at the International Medical Corps Treatment Centre in Bombali happily sang and danced a their very last patient left the compound the Ebola Centre for her home.

“We are tired and want to go home too, I am happy for Adama, she was so scared but was able to survive the virus including his son,” said Fatmata Bangura a nurse at the treatment centre with a wide smile.

Images & Reporting by Amadu Lamrana Bah