Geneva, Switzerland (AFP) — Guinea has notched up a week without a new case of Ebola, a first since March 2014, the head of the UN’s response to the epidemic, Bruce Aylward, said on Wednesday.
“As of today, they have gone seven days without a (new) case of Ebola,” said Aylward, the World Health Organization’s special envoy for the epidemic.
“That is the longest period since March of last year that Guinea has gone without an Ebola case,” he added.
There are two people in the country who have Ebola, but they tested postive before September 2.
For Aylward, the milestone in Guinea and news that Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown had gone 21 days without a new case fed optimism that the outbreak could be finished by the end of this year.
“Our goal is zero transmission in the human population and that remains very possible within 2015,” he said.
Sierra Leone confirmed three new cases this week in the village of Sellu Kafta, which is under quarantine, but Aylward said all patients were linked to the country’s single remaining transmission chain, which was being closely monitored.
The deadliest-ever Ebola outbreak since the virus was identified in central Africa in 1976 has killed more than 11,300 people since December of 2013.
Nearly all the victims have been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Despite positive signs that an end to the epidemic is within reach, Aylward again warned against complacency, including by the international community.
The outbreak “is not finished by a long shot,” he said, making clear that vigilance in the three hardest-hit countries would be essential through to the end of 2016, as the virus is embedded within the area’s animal population.