The last patient confirmed to have Ebola in Liberia was released from a treatment center in Monrovia, the ministry of health and social welfare told VICE News on Thursday.
Beatrice Yardolo, a 58-year old English teacher, was released this morning from the Chinese-run center in the nation's capital after contracting the virus on February 19. There are currently no confirmed patients in any treatment centers, a first in the country since May 2014.
"The last confirmed case was released from the Chinese ETU today," Tolbert Nyenswah, Assistant Minister of Health, said. "We don't have any confirmed cases in the ETU [Ebola Treatment Unit] but this does not mean that the fight against Ebola is over."
Nyenswah said there are currently 102 contacts in Monrovia, as well as in Montserrado County, the most populous county and where the capital is located, and also in Margibi County. March 13 would mark the end of the 21-day point, when the incubation period ends, for the current contacts. If none of these patients come down with the virus, the country will move toward reaching the all-clear 42-day mark.
Despite this milestone, Nyenswah stressed that protocol measures such as hand-washing and healthcare workers' wearing personal protective gear need to remain in place.
"Of course everything should remain tight, there is no room for complacency, every citizen should take the measures so that Liberia remains at zero, and also supporting our neighbors," Nyenswah said.
There were 132 news cases confirmed in Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to the World Health Organization's most recent report, released Wednesday.
Nyenswah said the government will continue all contact-tracing efforts, while moving to phase three of the outbreak. That is designed to keep the country's borders safe from cases crossing over the porous lines that separate the three West African nations where nearly 10,000 people have died of the virus since December 2013. The ministry will also begin testing all corpses for the virus to determine the exact numbers of infections. This has been a major challenge during the outbreak as the countries lacked such testing capabilities. Nyenswah said they now are able to perform swab tests on bodies recently taken to funeral homes.
Representative Saah Joseph, of Montserrado County, speaking to VICE News, praised these developments, but said that response teams still need support in ensuring the country remains Ebola-free. He said vigilance at the border is crucial, as is maintaining protocols in recently opened schools and deploying proper personnel to enforce these measures.
"This is the beginning for Liberia to put a system in place so that we will not have a new case again," Joseph, who ran an ambulance service during the Ebola crisis, said. "We still need to work very hard, this is just the beginning."
Follow Kayla Ruble on Twitter: @RubleKB