|0435 EST Today|
With a brief email to journalists this morning and a tweet (above) the World Health Organization has confirmed the suspected Ebola fatality reported in Sierra Leone last night (see Crofsblog Sierra Leone: Ebola death suspected hours after WHO declares end to epidemic in Liberia) - a disappointing, but not unexpected setback in the fight against Ebola in West Africa.
Just yesterday the WHO declared the Current Ebola Outbreak Over In Liberia - West Africa At Zero, but everyone involved was well aware how tenuous this hold on `zero' would be.
The virus is still in the environment, and it is likely that hundreds of recovered Ebola victims still carry - and may still shed - small amounts of the virus. Getting to `zero' transmissions - defined as going 42 days within in a country without a reported case - was a gargantuan task.
Staying there is proving very difficult.
We've seen similar setbacks in Liberia (twice), and yesterday the WHO warned that new flare ups were not only possible, they were likely. For now, the focus will be on tracing contacts of this latest victim, and containing any chains of transmission.
The victim is reportedly a 22 year old woman who died earlier this month after seeking medical assistance in Northern Tonkolili District, but hailing from the Northern Kambia district near the Guinea border.
I imagine we'll get a more detailed official statement later today, once the details of this case are pinned down.