While the mandatory surveillance periods for over 160 people in Liberia previously deemed at risk of contracting Ebola were wrapped up on Friday, reports of fresh cases serve as yet another reminder that the deadly disease still lingers in the country of over 4 million.
Of the three countries that the disease hit the hardest, Liberia was both the hardest hit and the first declared free of Ebola, however, after each declaration–the first in May and the second in September–new cases were reported.
Reuters reports that if everything goes well, the country–which has suffered the loss of more than 4,800 people to the disease–will once again, for the third time, be declared Ebola free.
In Sierra Leone, the epidemic officially came to an end in November and in Guinea, the last known patient has been discharged from the hospital.
According to the World Health Organization’s stance, a country is considered “free of Ebola transmission” once a total of 42 consecutive days have passed without a single new case of hemorrhagic fever.
Liberia, the country hit hardest by the outbreak in West Africa, has seen more than 11,300 people turn victims to the disease.
The Wall Street Journal reports the likelihood of another Ebola outbreak to be “highly unlikely” due to the massive amount of progress that has been made in the areas of detection and response.
While it is still unclear whether people can be infected by the virus and not develop symptoms, Dr. Barbara Marston, leader of the CDC’s Ebola response task force, and other scientists have stated that there’s simply no risk of contraction through casual contact with those who have survived the disease.