Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free more than a year and a half after the first case of the world's worst Ebola outbreak was reported in West Africa. On November 7, the World Health Organization reported 42 days (the length of two incubation cycles of the deadly virus) had passed since the last person confirmed to have the disease cleared a second consecutive blood test.
Thousands of people gathered in the streets of the capital city, Freetown, just before midnight November 6 in anticipation of the announcement. Various groups came together to organize a march through the city led by a military band and ending at a cotton tree in the heart of the city. The area was packed with people holding candles, jumping, and dancing. There were waves of celebration all over the city, including men, women, and children.
The Church of the Nazarene's 10th Sierra Leone District Assembly followed the Ebola-free declaration on Sunday, November 8.
"This was certainly not a coincidence; rather it was considered a divine arrangement," said Vidal Cole, Sierra Leone district superintendent. "Members of the church came trooping into the assembly in a very jubilant mood. The assembly was more of a joyous celebration. Some came in singing, jumping, dancing, shouting, and praising the Lord for what He had done. The atmosphere was full of excitement and great joy, and the words on everyone's lips was that of the Ebola-free declaration. The assembly started with a time of praise and worship that participants seemed unwilling to end, and the presence of God was very strong in our midst."
For many people, the Ebola-free declaration means that life will now return to normal. Farmers can now go to the farms, laborers can work on a daily basis, and students can continue their education in a safe environment.
Others are happy that they no longer have to live in fear of a disease that can wipe out entire families. Some said they will be able to travel freely to any part of the country, as the travel restrictions were lifted and vehicles are now navigating through many routes that were formerly suspended because of the crisis. People are also happy because the restriction on social gatherings has been lifted, thereby enabling them to host various get-togethers and celebrations at both individual and community levels.
Finally, some will be able to pay their last respects to their loved ones by giving them a funeral instead of a burial handled by government burial teams.