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Guinea's last known Ebola patient released

Guinea's last known Ebola patient has been released, raising hopes that the world could be declared free of Ebola before the end of the year.

Guinea, the last country still reporting cases after nearly two years and more than 11,000 deaths worldwide, must still go 42 days without any new cases and after that must maintain a period of heightened surveillance.

Health officials performed a second test on Monday on a baby whose mother had died from Ebola in October.

Fode Tass Sylla, a spokesman for Guinea's national Ebola response taskforce, said: "The baby is negative and so Guinea today is without a single Ebola patient.

"We are crossing our fingers and praying that nothing will happen over the next 42 days so that we can celebrate Guinea without Ebola."

The World Health Organisation will declare that Ebola disease transmission has ended when the country goes through two incubation periods - of 21 days each - without a new case emerging.

The other two countries hardest hit by the virus, Sierra Leone and Liberia, already have reached that benchmark.

However, authorities in Guinea said they continued to face resistance in fearful communities, where people initially blamed international health workers for bringing the virus to their region.

Many preferred to bring their sick to traditional healers instead of Ebola clinics and often buried the dead without conforming to the health rules that were designed to prevent mourners from being infected by corpses.

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