Excitement is building in Sierra Leone in anticipation of the declaration Saturday by the World Health Organization that the nation is Ebola-free after going 42 days without any new infections.
Abdulla Bayraytay, national publicity and outreach coordinator in the Sierra Leone’s government, said carnivals are being planned throughout the country to celebrate the day, but also to remember the nearly 4,000 people who lost their lives to the virus.
“Particularly our health workers, including some of the best of our doctors,” he said.
Bayraytay said some of the activities being planned for Saturday include a vigil by the civil society female organization to honor health workers, including those who lost their lives to the virus.
“And on Saturday, His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma will also address the nation. Without preempting that, part of the address will be to salute all the people who contributed in the fight and also to congratulate the resilience exhibited by Sierra Leoneans,” Bayraytay said.
He also said the government will tell Sierra Leoneans to remain vigilant and continue to respect all the Ebola prevention protocols to avoid the example of neighboring Liberia, where the country suffered a relapse after declared Ebola-free.
“Even before the Saturday, the chief executive official of the National Ebola Response Center has already informed the public that we are going to maintain the standard operating procedures in terms of dignified medical burial for any suspected case of Ebola - even though we would have been declared Ebola free - and that the practices and measures being put in place of avoiding body contact, of calling the 117, of not taking sick people to the herbalist, or to traditional healers, these are still important because we don’t want a relapse as it happened unfortunately in neighboring Liberia,” Bayraytay said.
Bayraytay also said Sierra Leone has intensified its surveillance at the border with Guinea, which just last week recorded three new cases.