On Monday morning, Adama Sankoh walked out of the International Medical Corps treatment center in Makeni and onto a red carpet. Hundreds of people — including Sierra Leone’s president, Ernest Bai Koroma — were waiting to celebrate. She is the last known Ebola patient in Sierra Leone; if no more cases are declared in the next 42 days, the country will be officially labeled “Ebola-free.” The president made sure attendees spread the word that the celebration was not complete, telling Sankoh, “The Ebola fight is not yet over — go and tell members of your community that.”
“It was like she was a rock star,” a spokesperson for the medical center told reporters. “There were at least 100 people there — politicians, press — everyone wanting a photograph of her.”
Nearly 4,000 people have died from the deadly disease in Sierra Leone — the first case was confirmed in May 2014. Liberia was declared Ebola-free in May, but has dealt with more cases this summer. Nearby Guinea is not Ebola-free either. There have been around 28,000 individual cases.
At the ceremony, Sankoh, whose 23-year-old son died from Ebola shortly before she became sick, said she hoped that she would be the last patient who contracted the virus. “Although my child died of Ebola, I am very happy that I have survived today.”