New Ebola cases hit Liberia months after nation declared free of virus

Three new cases of Ebola were reported in Liberia on Thursday, more than two months after the World Health Organization declared the country free of the deadly virus. 

The new patients were a 10-year-old boy who lived with his parents and three siblings in Paynesville, a suburb of the capital Monrovia, and two direct family members, Liberia Minister of Health Bernice Dahn said. All family and high-risk contacts were admitted to an Ebola Treatment Unit.

“The hospital is currently decontaminating the unit. All of the healthcare workers who came into contact with the patient have been notified,” Dahn said in a statement on Friday. “We know how Ebola spreads and we know how to stop Ebola but we must remain vigilant and work together.”

In September, the WHO officially declared an end to the Ebola epidemic in the country, which has seen more than 10,600 cases of the disease and 4,808 deaths, WHO figures show. This is the fourth wave of the virus to hit the country since it was first announced in March 2014.

“It is possible that we will find more cases,” Dahn, said. “The key is to stop it, find the source, and prevent the next one.”

The virus has killed a total of about 11,300 people in West Africa, although Sierra Leone was declared free of the virus on Nov. 7 and Guinea has begun its countdown to the end of the virus, Reuters reported.

A country must go 42 days without reporting any new cases of the virus in order for the WHO to declare it Ebola-free.