Sierra Leona’s President announced that the country would have no new Ebola cases by the end of March this year. President Ernest Bai Koroma made the announcement even as his country records 19 new Ebola cases within 24-hours. He also forecasted that Sierra Leona, which is one of the most ill-affected West African countries, would be Ebola-free as per the standards set by the World Health Organization, by May. Koroma announced the forecasts at a town hall meeting this week.

The southern Pujehun district of Sierra Leona has not registered any new Ebola cases in over 42 days, a government data showed. As per WHO standards, a country cannot be declared Ebola-free until has recorded 0 new cases for 42 consecutive days. Among the 19 new cases, recorded countrywide, at least half were in and around Freetown’s capital. Sierra Leona has registered around 900 cases in the last 21 days, indicating the death of almost 3,000 people since the first outburst. These statistics were reported by the WHO.

In Sierra Leona, Guinea and Liberia, almost 8,000 people have died due to Ebola. Although the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had forecasted that the epidemic would subside by 2015, the WHO fails to target a specific time. Previous failed predictions have caused disappointment and loss of hope. WHO had expected to bury all victims and treat all Ebola-patients by Jan 1, 2015.

Among the biggest challenges, in curbing the epidemic, is locating all contacts of confirmed cases. It posses increased threat when regions where the virus is spreading are not known. Experts are worried and show concern because some regions are not reporting any Ebola cases.

While hoping to end all Ebola cases in the three countries worst affected with Ebola, WHO’s spokeswoman, Winnie Romeril, said that the organization could not predict when it will end.

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