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Ebola Case Confirmed in Sierra Leone, Officials Say

Update Date: Jan 15, 2016 10:22 AM EST

One case of Ebola in a deceased woman has been confirmed in Sierra Leone one day after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared West Africa free of the virus.

According the spokesman for the Office of National Security in Sierra Leone, Francis Langoba Kellie, the corpse of a 22-year-old woman who died on Jan. 12 tested positive for the virus. Officials stated that the woman could have exposed at least 27 other people to the virus. Kellie has asked the public to try and remain calm while they investigate and track down all potential links to the women, which include taxi drivers, family members and health care workers.

"Our level of preparedness and response capabilities are very high and there is no cause for concern," Kellie said according to the Associated Press. "We encourage the public to continue to practice the hygiene regulations which were in force during the period while Ebola was raging and the emergency regulations are still in force."

The WHO, who confirmed the case, stated that flare-ups were expected in West Africa where the outbreak lasted two years and took more than 11,300 lives. The United Nations health agency, which had stressed the importance of tracking down cases and containing them, commended the officials for acting fast.

"The Sierra Leone government acted rapidly to respond to this new case," the WHO said. "Through the country's new emergency operations center, a joint team of local authorities, WHO and partners are investigating the origin of the case, identifying contacts and initiating control measures to prevent further transmission."

Sierra Leone was the first of the three West African countries affected by the outbreak to be declared Ebola-free back in November. Guinea was declared Ebola-free toward the end of December. Liberia was declared free of the virus this past Thursday when WHO officials reported there has not been a new case in the country in 42 days. The organization had concluded, "all known chains of transmission have been stopped in West Africa."

Despite the declaration, the WHO report stated that "more flare-ups are expected and that strong surveillance and response systems will be critical in the months to come."

During the outbreak, Sierra Leone had reported more than 14,000 cases with nearly 4,000 deaths due to the virus.

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