Liberia on Thursday discharged hopefully the last survivor in all of its 19 treatment units nationwide, the 13th day of reporting zero Ebola cases.
A joyous Beatrice Yardolo was greeted with a huge cheer from relatives, friends and well-wishers as she walked through the exit portion of an Ebola treatment unit run by the Chinese paramilitary in Paynesville outside Monrovia.
Her case was the result of an outbreak of the disease in St. Paul Bridge, a suburb of Monrovia that further prolonged Liberia’s goal of reaching zero in mid-February after the country stumbled on an ambitious Christmas Day mark in 2014.
The head of Liberia Ebola response, Assistant Minister of Health for Preventive Services Tolbert Nyenswah said it was a great day for Liberia.
“Today signifies a very great day for our country. When the news was bad, we reported the bad goods. We stand here today to signify good news,” he told an elaborate program marking her discharge.
“For the past 13 days, the entire republic has gone without a confirmed Ebola Virus Disease,” he added. “We have gone 100 plus days in places like Lofa and counties in the southeast. In the last 21 days, there were only six confirmed cases. Thirteen of our 15 counties have gone more than 42 days without an Ebola case. We are counting down for the 21-day day [period] on March 13 and we are counting down for the 42-day [period] for the international community to have confidence in our country that Ebola is no longer here.”
However, Nyenswah called on Liberians to continue observing strict measures imposed to eradicate the disease, warning that complacency over the significant progress made could plunge the country backwards.
“We have 102 contacts that that are under follow-up. What we also know is that this does not signify Ebola is over in Liberia. The road is still long. We will do our job to follow all of the contacts, keep the vigilance, do away with complacency and help our county health teams and our health workers to respond adequately.”
The head of the Chinese medical team that treated Yardolo, Col. Yang Haiwei, said progress made on the Ebola frontlines were as the result of cooperation among partners and the government of Liberia.
Yang: “For now, Ms. Yardolo is the last confirmed case in Liberia. Her discharge is achieved by all the treatment efforts of the Chinese ETU (Ebola treatment unit) members; and this zero case result is achieved under strong leadership of Liberian government and also the by a joint effort of the global community.
“This victory may be only temporary but it is still a milestone.”
The Charge d’ affaires at the Chinese embassy in Liberia, Pang Hanzhao recognized the coincidence of the discharge of Yardolo with the celebration of the Chinese Lantern Festival.
“It is also the official ending of the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration season and the beginning of the new year (2015). According to the Chinese culture, spring also represents hope. I am confident that in this season of hope and if we always have hope in mind, take joint efforts and hard work, there will be nothing that is insurmountable and we can achieve more in fighting against Ebola,” Pang said.
Yardolo thanked the staff of the Chinese treatment unit, where she had stayed since February 18.
“I did not know I could make it because since Ebola hit the country the whole of last year went bad. We thought that Ebola had passed by us, but in January three of our children were taken away by the virus,” she said.
“I am very grateful to the Chinese ETU and the Almighty God that I lived to see this day.”
Her son, Joel Yardolo said he was happy for the achievement of his mother and Liberia.
“It makes me feel happy; it makes me feel like our country is coming to the end of a very horrible period. To know that my mother is the very last person and that there will be no other person will be admitted of Ebola, it is delighting news. I am happy.”
A resident of Paynesville, James Tamba, who lives just nearby the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex that hosts the Chinese Ebola treatment unit, said: “I remember about some months back Liberia was almost plunged into a catastrophe. Now to see that the last person is being discharged, we can only pray to God that Liberia should not experience such a nightmare.