WHO confirms second new Ebola case in Sierra Leone

Ebola awareness posters are seen peeling off the wall in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on Jan 20, 2016.
Ebola awareness posters are seen peeling off the wall in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on Jan 20, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

GENEVA (AFP) - The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday (Jan 21) confirmed a new case of Ebola in Sierra Leone, the second since west Africa last week declared an end to the epidemic that has killed more than 11,300 people .

"There was a new confirmed case," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told AFP in an e-mail, adding that the new case was the aunt of a 22-year-old student Marie Jalloh, who was determined to have died of the virus on Jan 12.

The 38-year-old woman "was a primary caregiver during the young woman's illness", he said, adding that she had developed symptoms of the deadly virus on Wednesday while she was being monitored at a quarantine facility.

"The patient is being treated now," Mr Jasarevic said.

Sierra Leone Health Ministry spokesman Sidi Yahyah Tunis also confirmed the new case, saying the aunt had helped wash Ms Jalloh's body to prepare it for an Islamic burial.

"We are expecting other cases, particularly from those who washed the body before the burial of Marie," he told reporters.

Ebola is spread among humans via the bodily fluids of recently deceased victims and carriers showing symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhoea and - in the worst cases - massive internal and external bleeding.

Ebola is at its most infectious as people are dying or in the bodies of those who have died from the virus.

"We are monitoring other people now quarantined to see whether they would manifest signs and symptoms of the disease during the 21-day incubation period," Mr Tunis said.

The Ebola outbreak, which began in Guinea in December 2013, has killed more than 11,300 people, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, marking the deadliest outbreak of the virus yet.

The resurgence of new cases in Sierra Leone comes after west Africa a week ago celebrated the end of the outbreak after Liberia became the last of the three worst-hit countries in the region to be declared Ebola-free.

Sierra Leone had received the all-clear last November, and Guinea last December.