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Sierra Leone Releases Last Known Ebola Case

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Health officials in Sierra Leone released the country's last confirmed Ebola patient from the hospital Monday, beginning a 42-day countdown to being declared free of the virus.

Adama Sankoh left an Ebola treatment center on the outskirts of the city of Makeni after receiving her second negative test result for the virus. Medical staff celebrated in a ceremony attended by President Ernest Bai Koroma.

Sankoh, whose son died from Ebola, thanked the medical staff who provided her care during her illness.

For Sierra Leone to be declared free of Ebola, it must go 42 days — equal to two incubation periods of the virus — without another case. Liberia was declared Ebola-free in May, only to experience a brief resurgence in cases.

Ebola has devastated West Africa for more than 18 months, infecting more than 28,000 people, mostly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. More than 11,200 people have died from the virus, with the death toll in Sierra Leone at nearly 4,000.

Ebola is spread through contact with the body fluids of an infected person. Health officials have worked to contain the virus by isolating patients, monitoring their contacts, and insisting on safe burials for those who remain contagious after dying of Ebola.