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WHO declares Senegal free of Ebola

The World Health Organization applauded Senegal on Friday for its responsiveness to an imported case of Ebola, declaring it free of Ebola after 42 days of no new cases detected.

By JC Finley
WHO declares Senegal free of Ebola
Senegal's President Macky Sall, pictured in August, was credited by the World Health Organization for stopping the spread of Ebola in the West African country. (UPI/Chip Somodevilla/Pool) | License Photo

GENEVA, Switzerland, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- The World Health Organization declared Senegal free of Ebola on Friday.

The health agency's announcement comes after the West African country saw no new Ebola cases for a requisite period of 42 days.

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"For WHO to declare an Ebola outbreak over, a country must pass through 42 days, with active surveillance demonstrably in place, supported by good diagnostic capacity, and with no new cases detected. Active surveillance is essential to detect chains of transmission that might otherwise remain hidden."

Senegal reported its first case of Ebola on Aug. 29 after a 21-year-old male Conakry University student from Guinea tested positive for the virus.

WHO credited the Senegalese President Macky Sall and Health Minister Awa Coll-Seck's swift response with preventing further contagion.

"Senegal's response is a good example of what to do when faced with an imported case of Ebola.

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"The government's response plan included identifying and monitoring 74 close contacts of the patient, prompt testing of all suspected cases, stepped-up surveillance at the country's many entry points and nationwide public awareness campaigns."

The infected college student ultimately recovered from Ebola and returned to Guinea on Sept. 18.

WHO cautioned that while Senegal is now free of Ebola, it remains vulnerable due to its geographic proximity to Ebola-infected countries.

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