Ebola crisis: Liberian corpse tests positive for virus nearly two months after country was declared free of the disease

Authorities have quarantined the Nedowein area where the corpse tested positive

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The Independent Online

The corpse of a 17-year-old boy in Liberia has tested positive for Ebola nearly two months after the country was declared Ebola-free, sparking fears that the country could succumb to another outbreak of the virus that has already killed over 11,200 people since the epidemic began.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Liberia Ebola-free on 9 May after the country went 42 days without a new case. More than 4,800 people in the country have died from the virus.

Deputy Health Minister and head of Liberia’s Ebola response team, Tolbert Nyenswah, said: “Liberia has got a re-infection of Ebola.”

He said teams are now investigating how the boy, who died in the Nedowein area of the country, became infected, and are tracing people he may have come into contact with.


“There is no need to panic. The corpse has been buried and our contact tracing has started work,” the deputy health minister told Reuters News Agency. 

The Nedowein area is not close to the borders with Sierra Leone and Guinea where cases of Ebola are still found.

The boy died at his home on 28 June and was buried on the same day. Nyenswah said the boy had been buried safely to ensure the virus would not spread.

The Nedowein area, which is close to the international airport and around 30 miles south of the capital of Monrovia, has now been placed under quarantine. The number of people placed under the quarantine has not yet been released, but Nyenswah said food is being sent to the affected homes.

Liberian health officials have met with the WHO and the US Centres for Disease Control over the new case.

Around 43 per cent of the total Ebola deaths since the epidemic began in December 2013 have been in Liberia. At the height of the outbreak, the country was reporting hundreds of cases a week.

New incidences have tapered this year, with 12 new confirmed cases reported in Guinea and eight in Sierra Leone in the week to June 21, according to WHO figures. Even so, health officials urge vigilance to prevent a resurgence of the disease, Reuters reported.

The new case will test Liberia's response capacity at a time when international health organisations have wound down their presence in the affected countries, said Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba, spokeswoman for the U.N. Ebola response mission.

Additional reporting by agencies