FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — Health officials in Sierra Leone on Sunday confirmed an Ebola death less than a week after the country’s last known patient was discharged from a hospital.
Samples from the body of a 67-year-old woman who died recently in the Kambia district in the north of Sierra Leone came back positive for the disease, the country’s chief medical officer, Dr. Brima Kargbo, said.
Last Monday, the last known Ebola patient in Sierra Leone was discharged from a hospital, a milestone that allowed the country to begin a 42-day countdown toward being declared free of Ebola.
The authorities were still trying to determine whether the woman in Kambia died before or after that countdown began, Dr. Kargbo said.
The National Ebola Response Center has sent teams to trace people who were in contact with the woman, O. B. Sisay, the center’s director, said, adding, “We should not despair, as we have been expecting this.”
The current Ebola outbreak has killed nearly 4,000 people in Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization, and more than 11,300 overall, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
A country must go 42 days — equal to two incubation periods — without an Ebola case for the W.H.O. to declare it free of Ebola.