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Liberia releases last Ebola patient, counts down to being declared free of disease

A man walks past an Ebola campaign banner in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, on Feb. 23, 2015.

ZOOM DOSSO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Liberia released its last Ebola patient, a 58-year old English teacher, from a treatment centre in the capital on Thursday, beginning its countdown to being declared Ebola-free.

(Read The Globe's primer on West Africa's Ebola outbreak)

"I am one of the happiest human beings today on Earth because it was not easy going through this situation and coming out alive," Beatrice Yardolo told Associated Press after her release. She kept thanking God and the health workers at the centre.

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Yardolo said she had been admitted to the Chinese-run Ebola treatment centre in the Paynesville district of Monrovia on Feb. 18. A mother of five, she is originally from the northeastern county of Nimba near the borders with Guinea and Ivory Coast, but lives in Monrovia where she teaches at a church-run school. The St. Paul's Bridge community where she resides and teaches had become the last "hotspot" for Ebola cases in Monrovia, according to Tolbert Nyenswah, Assistant Health Minister and head of the country's Ebola response.

Nyenswah said Wednesday that there were no other confirmed cases of Ebola in the country, and as such Liberia can begin to count up to 42 days to be declared Ebola-free in keeping with World Health Organization protocols and standards.

He challenged all Liberians to commit themselves to achieving "zero Ebola infections" by rigidly abiding by the anti-Ebola regulations.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has said no country can be declared Ebola-free until all the other countries have no cases.

After causing nearly 10,000 recorded deaths since the outbreak was discovered a year ago, Ebola is also waning in Guinea. But new cases continue to emerge in Sierra Leone. Nine new cases were reported in a 24-hour period, according to an update from the Sierra Leone government on Tuesday.

Ebola has cost the three countries an estimated 12 per cent of their gross domestic product, shifted resources causing other health care problems, and hurt business as people became scared to leave their homes or go to markets.

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