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Sierra Leone releases its last known Ebola patient

by: Associated Press - August 24, 2015
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In this photo taken Friday, August 14 Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma, centre, cuts a tape to release people from quarantine in the village of Massessehbeh on the outskirts of Freetown, Sierra Leone. Five months after a man traveled to his home village for festivities marking the end of Ramadan, and died suddenly from Ebola, but now President Koroma came to cut down the fencing to mark the formal end of Sierra Leone's largest remaining Ebola quarantine. (Photo: AP)

In this photo taken Friday, August 14 Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma, centre, cuts a tape to release people from quarantine in the village of Massessehbeh on the outskirts of Freetown, Sierra Leone. Five months after a man traveled to his home village for festivities marking the end of Ramadan, and died suddenly from Ebola, but now President Koroma came to cut down the fencing to mark the formal end of Sierra Leone’s largest remaining Ebola quarantine. (Photo: AP)

MAKENI, Sierra Leone (AP) — Health authorities in Sierra Leone have released the country’s last known Ebola patient from the hospital.

The patient’s release on Monday now starts the clock for a 42-day countdown until the World Health Organization can declare the country Ebola-free.

Such a declaration would leave just one country left in West Africa with Ebola cases — Guinea, where the epidemic first began in late 2013.

Sierra Leone’s National Ebola Response Centre director OB Sisay says authorities know there is still a high risk more cases could emerge. He says the “job is far from over.”

Nearly 4,000 people have died of Ebola in Sierra Leone since the virus was first detected in May 2014. The patient released Monday is the mother of a man who died in late July.