A body has tested positive for Ebola in Sierra Leone, a spokesman for the Health Ministry said, just hours after the World Health Organization said transmission of the virus in West Africa had ended.
Two swab tests carried out on the deceased person by British health organization Public Health England came back positive in the Tonkolili district east of the capital Freetown, the spokesman said late on Thursday.
Neither the gender nor the age of the deceased person was released. It was not clear how many people the patient had been in contact with before the virus was detected.
The tests reinforce concerns about flare-ups of the virus that has killed more than 11,300 people since 2013 in the world's deadliest outbreak of Ebola.
Almost all the victims were in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, but all three countries had been declared free of the virus: Sierra Leone on Nov. 7, Guinea late last year, and Liberia on Thursday.
The World Health Organization warned on Thursday that despite the absence of known transmissions of the disease in over two months, there could still be cases of Ebola in the region. This was because survivors can carry the virus for months and pass it on.
The WHO on Friday confirmed the new Ebola case in Sierra Leone but did not immediately provide details or say whether there was a risk of others being infected.
While it has said that another major outbreak of the disease is unlikely, it reiterated its message of caution.
"WHO stresses ongoing risk of flare-ups due to the re-emergence of the virus throughout 2016 due to persistence of the virus in the survivor population," a spokesman said.
The Minister of public Health Andre Mama Fouda has announced the availability of new drugs to treat Hepatitis B and C during a press conference recently in Yaounde.
He revealed that patients suffering from Hepatitis “C” genotype 2 will henceforth spend 450,000 FCFA for a 3 months treatment instead of 2 million FCFA as previously spent in 2014 and 11 million FCFA in 2011.
Meanwhile the cost of treatment for Hepatitis “C” genotype 1 and 4 has reduced from 3 million (2014) to 1.5 milion.
The treatment of both stages of Hepatitis are due to last for three months instead of four months as in 2011 and 2014 and with a recovery rate of 95%.
The Minister also said that the prevalence rate of Hepatitis “B” in Cameroon stands at 11.9%,that is about 2 million persons and 1.0% for Hepatitis C that is about 200, 000 persons.
Cameroon is second after Egypt and among the 91 countries around the world to benefit from such a privileged offered by Labo Gene.
Liberia is expected to be declared free of Ebola Thursday by the World Health Organization (WHO), effectively ending the outbreak in West Africa that has killed more than 11,000 people in the past two years.
Sierra Leone and Guinea, the two other West African nations affected by the epidemic, were declared free of the disease in November and December, respectively, last year.
Two previous attempts to declare Liberia free of the virus ended when infections re-emerged.
International support praised
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said Wednesday the end of Ebola transmission in West Africa is a testament to what can be achieved when the international community works alongside national governments in caring for their people.
Ban also called on the world to make good on its pledges to care for the more than 10,000 Ebola survivors.
However, Ban and WHO Director Margaret Chan warned Wednesday that the region could still see flare-ups of the virus.
Tolbert Nyenswah, Liberia’s deputy minister of health for public health and head of the country’s Ebola response, said despite the global concern, Liberia has the resiliency and capacity to contain any resurgence of the virus.
“We’ve shown in Liberia that the health care system has the human resource capacity, infection prevention and control capacity, health care workers are vigilant, and response workers are vigilant. So if there is any flare-up of the Ebola virus disease, we can jump on it quickly, do the test within 24 hours, isolate the cases, and reduce secondary infection,” Nyenswah said.
He said the country has developed a three-point response strategy to contain the spread of the virus, including testing bodies of Ebola victims and continued testing of survivors.
During a speech to the United Nations last September, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf thanked the international community and its contributions to Liberia during the Ebola outbreak.
"We remain grateful to all of you for the outpouring of support and assistance as we faced down the deadly Ebola virus disease, the greatest modern threat to global public health," Sirleaf said in her address to the United Nations General Assembly.
She said the response exemplified the capacity of the U.N. to respond to threats to collective threats to humanity.
Statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicates that more than 2, 000 million people alive worldwide today have been infected with Hepatitis B virus (HBV) at some time in their lives. Of this, about 350 million remain infected chronically and become carriers of the virus. WHO further estimates that about three per cent of the world’s population has been infected with Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and that there are more than 170-180 million chronic carriers, who are at risk of developing liver cirrhosis and/or liver cancer. The situation in Cameroon seems worrisome as national statistics reveal that the prevalence rate of hepatitis virus in the country stands at 11.9 per cent with two million Cameroonians exposed to HBV and 2,000 infected with HCV.
While government is making strides to reduce the cost in treating these deadly and costly viral diseases, health experts say the population should be conscious against these diseases. A Public Health specialist in Yaounde, Dr Jude Ngu Achidi, says hepatitis B and C are the most dangerous amongst the viral disease which greatly affect the liver causing cancer. HBV, doctors say, is transmitted when blood, semen, or any other body fluid from a person infected with the Hepatitis B virus get in contact with the body fluid of someone who is not infected. This can happen through sexual intercourse, sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment, or from mother to child at birth.
Dr Ngu Achidi stressed that Hepatitis B is not spread through food, water, or casual contact. Health personnel explain that for some people hepatitis B is an acute, or short-term, illness but for others, it can become a long-term, chronic infection. Symptoms of HBV may include fever, a flu-like illness and joint pains. Hepatitis B can be prevented through vaccination and post-exposure prophylaxis. HBV risk can also be reduced by avoiding unprotected sex, contaminated needles and other sources of infection. Hepatitis C which is also a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis infection, ranging in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness.
Experts say the most common modes of infection are through unsafe injection practices; inadequate sterilization of medical equipment; and the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products. Medically, it is revealed that although HBV and HCV might have similar modes of infection at some point, HCV is more contagious. Antiviral medicines can cure persons with hepatitis C infection, thereby reducing the risk of death from liver cancer and cirrhosis, but access to diagnosis and treatment is low because of the cost. Currently there is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE—
Sierra Leone has been Ebola-free for two months. While the situation has improved in some ways, many Ebola survivors say they are not getting enough help to rebuild their lives.
Ebola survivors discussed their frustrations recently at a meeting of the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors in Freetown, the country’s capital.
Each survivor was entitled to a discharge package after recovery. This was to include a bag of rice, a foam mattress and some cash, equal to about $70.
However, some said they were still waiting for that package. Others said it came very late.
Massah Stevens, a nurse who caught Ebola from a patient while working in a treatment center, said she did not get her discharge package until 10 months after her release. She said she managed because her husband could help out, but not all survivors have that luxury.
“They have lost their parents. They have lost their mother, father,” she said.
The Ministry of Social Welfare and Gender and Children Affairs is responsible for the packages. Tina Davies, who directs Ebola survivor activities within the ministry, admitted that some discharge packages had been delayed. This was because Ebola treatment units did not inform the ministry fast enough that survivors had been discharged, she said.
Davies said most survivors had received their packages by now.
Too little, some say
Still, survivors like Yusif Koroma said the supplies weren't nearly enough compensation for what he had gone through.
“The family is vulnerable. I won’t eat that bag of rice alone; I have to share,” Koroma said.
More help is needed, survivors said — and fast.
Davies said more help would be coming through a specific program for Ebola survivors. Now that the country is Ebola-free, she said, the ministry can focus more on issues of survivors.
The government is looking at a long-term program for survivors that gives them scholarships, skills training and startup kits for businesses.
Davies added that survivors can go to health clinics for continued treatment of medical issues.
Survivors have received psychological counseling as well as their discharge packages, so "it’s not like nothing is happening," she said. "I think it’s that cultural aspect, that people want cash in their hands, but we’re trying to provide services that are sustainable for survivors. You get livelihood skills [and] support them through education, to empower them.”
Davies said she could understand the frustration that arises when things are not moving as quickly as survivors would like, but she insisted that Ebola survivors were a priority for Sierra Leone and that they would not be forgotten.
A 29-old-youth military officer, Mr Excellent Okpako Akevwighome, recently slummed and died while leading a choir ministration in his church, Christ Gospel Church, in Edjeketa community, Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta State.
He was said to have slummed and died almost immediately midway into the vigil while leading the choristers in a song according to reports by Nigerian Vangaurd Newspaper.
An eye witness said when he fell, he was thought to be under the influence of Holy Spirit, but after waiting for about 20 minutes and he was not getting up, some of the choristers tried to help him up only to find out that he was already dead, at exactly 11.30pm of that day.
The Pastor of the church, Pastor Peter Akpovwera, expressed shock at the incident, saying “the brother was a faithful worshipper but lost his life to the cold hand of death even in the church.”
His younger brother, Mr Godday Akevwighome, said the victim was serving in Anambra state as at the time of his untimely death.