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Lowest weekly total of Ebola cases in 2015 reported, UN health agency says

25 March 2015 – The first case of Ebola in three weeks was found in Liberia, prompting heightened vigilance, while the United Nations health agency noted some improvements in Guinea, where the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Guinean Scouts held campfire sensitization sessions as part of its efforts to overcome community resistance to health interventions.

"Investigations into the origin of the newly reported case in Liberia are ongoing," the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest update. "Heightened vigilance is being maintained throughout the country" along with efforts to reinforce surveillance networks and cross-border controls.

The one new confirmed case was reported from the greater Monrovia area of Montserrado county, where the patient went to a hospital on 19 March, and was laboratory confirmed as Ebola positive the next day, according to WHO.

The agency went on to say that the patient is not a contact associated with the country's last confirmed case, who tested negative for a second time on 3 March.

In its latest report, WHO said 79 new confirmed cases of Ebola were reported in the week to 22 March: the lowest weekly total in 2015 from the epidemic in West Africa that has affected nearly 25,000 people with more than 10,000 deaths.

"With the exception of the case in Liberia, transmission has been restricted to districts in and around Conakry to the north and Freetown to the south," WHO said, referring to the capitals of Guinea and Sierra Leone respectively.

And "response indicators for Guinea suggest some improvements compared with recent weeks," the agency reported. "Case incidence declined compared with the previous week in every prefecture to have reported a case in the past 21 days."

However, WHO cautioned, "the fact that fewer than half of cases arose from known contacts, and the number of reported unsafe burials has increased suggests that the outbreak in Guinea continues to be driven by unknown chains of transmission."

UNICEF conducted several social mobilization and community engagement activities in its fight against Ebola in Guinea, where religious leaders at the Grand Mosque of Kourouss delivered Ebola sensitization messages following the reading of the Quran with 14 imams reaching more than 500 people, the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) said in its daily report.

In partnership with the Guinean Scouts, UNICEF is working to overcome community resistance to Ebola-related humanitarian interventions in numerous locations. And as part of this effort, UNICEF and the Scouts held campfire Ebola sensitization sessions and screened sensitization films during evening gatherings, according to UNMEER.

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