Sierra Leone hours from being declared free of Ebola


Sierra Leone - where British nurse Pauline Cafferkey caught Ebola - is set to be declared free of the disease.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is expected to announce today that Sierra Leone is Ebola free, following 42 days of no new cases of the virus.

Ms Cafferkey, who is from South Lanarkshire, first contracted the disease while working as a nurse at the Save the Children treatment centre in Kerry Town.

A report found she was wearing a visor rather than more protective goggles, which she could not get to fit properly.

She was diagnosed in December after returning to Glasgow from the west African country via London.

Ms Cafferkey is still being treated at the Royal Free Hospital in north-west London, months after she was thought to have fought off the Ebola infection.

She suffered a bout of meningitis and her condition worsened, but she has now been treated with the experimental drug GS5734.

Dr Michael Jacobs, from the Royal Free Hospital, described the situation as "unprecedented", while the WHO said Ms Cafferkey was the only known Ebola survivor to develop meningitis months later.

Dr Jacobs, infectious diseases consultant at the hospital, told a press conference last month: "This is the original Ebola virus she had many months ago which has been inside the brain, replicating at a very low level, and has now re-emerged to cause this clinical illness of meningitis."

Pete Jones, Ebola response manager for the British Red Cross, said: "There is so much to celebrate in Sierra Leone today.

"When the Ebola outbreak was at its peak last year, it felt like this day might never come.

"The fact that it has is down to the thousands of volunteers and health workers, from Sierra Leone and overseas, who day after day have cared for patients, buried the dead and worked in communities to improve understanding of Ebola - in doing so, taking huge personal risk and often suffering stigma.

"Sadly, however, this is only the beginning of the end. With Ebola still present in neighbouring Guinea, and much that is still unknown about the virus, there is a real possibility that it will resurface in Sierra Leone - one that we need to treat as a case of when, rather than if."