A new case of Ebola was recorded in Liberia on Friday, putting an end to its countdown of being declared an Ebola-free nation. The 44-year-old woman, who tested positive for the disease, is suspected to have contracted the virus through sexual intercourse with survivors.
The latest Ebola patient was transferred to ELWA Ebola treatment unit in Monrovia after she tested positive for the disease, Reuters reported, citing Liberian Information Minister Lewis Brown. Surveillance teams were deployed to the woman's Caldwell neighborhood in Monrovia while officials tried to track those with whom she last came in contact with.
"Initial suspicion is that she may have contacted the virus through sexual intercourse with a survivor," Brown said, according to Reuters.
The last recorded cluster of Ebola cases was from St. Paul's Bridge suburb, which is not far from the woman's neighborhood. An emergency meeting is also scheduled for Saturday to discuss the newest case in Liberia, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
The World Health Organization (WHO) requires a country to complete 42 days without any new case to be declared Ebola-free. Liberia, which has been affected the most by the disease, had discharged its last known patient on March 5 from Monrovia. The government had reportedly hoped the country would be declared Ebola-free next month, having gone 27 days without a new case of the disease, until Friday's discovery.
Health officials warned that despite people recovering from Ebola, the virus could spread through sexual intercourse as traces of the virus can be found in semen for two months.
According to WHO, over 4,200 people in Liberia have died due to the disease while over 10,000 people have died since the disease was detected last year in Guinea, BBC reported. Health officials had earlier said that while there were hopes that Liberia could curtail the spread of the disease, the country remained at risk until Sierra Leone and Guinea beat the disease.
"We knew very well that we were not out of the woods yet," Tolbert Nyenswah, head of Liberia's Ebola response, said, according to AP.