As Ebola transmission in Guinea ends, Liberia counts down again, and a Public Health Emergency of International Concern continues

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The last week of 2015 saw the pronouncement that Ebola transmission had ended in Guinea, the country where two years ago the spread of the virus that subsequently made itself felt around the world began. Guinea celebrated, as Liberia did first in May, and as Sierra Leone did best in November. The triumph this time, though, was tempered by the two weeks still ahead before Liberia can, once again, for a third time celebrate the end of transmission there, and by the need for continued vigilance the latest outbreak there has highlighted. That outbreak, sparked by the re-emergence of the virus in a previous patient, the World Health Organization noted in its most recent report, also highlights the need to continue to provide services, including testing, to survivors — who across the three most affected countries number at least 17,000.

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They are among the reasons why the organization that did not recognize the outbreak as an emergency until months after it had spread to the capitals of the three countries in 2014, continued to recognize it as an emergency with no active patients following a teleconference three weeks ago.

The organization documents some of the progress that has been made in recent months in its most recent report, including according to document, the existence of “at least 1 national rapid response team” in each of those three countries. At the same time it notes that while Liberia and Sierra Leone have, with help from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as from the WHO, developed clinical, testing and counseling services for survivors that include semen screening, plans to offer those services in Guinea are “currently at an earlier stage of development.”

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